BTA, tennis star's father trade accusations

Tshegofatso Tsiang
Tshegofatso Tsiang

The Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) has come under criticism after failing to pay school fees for tennis star, Tshegofatso Tsiang, who is at a tennis academy in South Africa.

The association has instead pointed an accusing finger at the player’s father, Oshinka, for the predicament. Failure to pay school fees means the player would only sit for her examinations next year.

Tshegofatso is based at the Riaan Venter Tennis Academy in Potchefstroom, South Africa. According to information reaching Mmegi Sport, BTA owes the academy around R69,000 that has accumulated over two years.   A source said the BTA is always reluctant to foot the bill. “They always pay late hence the situation Tsiang finds herself in.

That affects her confidence. The owner of the academy is even threatening to sue BTA. They are not communicating with the academy about what is going on,” the source said.

New BTA president, Oaitse Thipe said the grant that pays Tshegofatso’s fees comes from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC).

“The academy and her father messed up. We inherited the situation in 2017. Her father moved her from the High Performance Centre (HPC) in Pretoria to Potchefstroom. BTA was against the move, but her father wrote a letter saying he would not hold us against any liabilities in case anything goes wrong,” Thipe said.

Thipe said it was disappointing that Oshinka Tsiang wants to turn around and hold BTA at ransom while he orchestrated the whole situation.

“We do not offer scholarships, but we facilitate for our players to get scholarships at good tennis institutions,” he said. Thipe said the BNSC has committed to paying for Tshegofatso to finish high school next year. He said this year, she has missed out on her examinations, but her tennis development is taken care of. Thipe said BTA has lined up a number of ITF tournaments in 2020 locally,

which would benefit Tshegofatso to better her rankings and ensure that the best universities recruit her.

“It is not like we do not care about her, she is an asset to us and we have to ensure that she continues improving her rankings,” he added. Tshegofatso’s father, Oshinka dismissed Thipe’s version.

“Ask him to tell you the truth. I moved my daughter from HPC because the scholarship was no longer available. They were not prepared to give her full scholarship hence she moved. Even if she was still at the HPC she would still be in the same situation,” Tsiang said. He complained that BTA does not take care of players like paying tournament fees or buying equipment.

He said they only purchase items for the players when they are in the national team. “She was recently injured in Zimbabwe on national duty and BTA wanted to transport her in a bus to Botswana because they claimed that they did not have the budget (to fly her). I had to intervene and BNSC bought her an air ticket,” he said.

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