BNOC campaigns hit the home stretch

Incumbent: Tshenyego says continuity is key 
Incumbent: Tshenyego says continuity is key PIC: MORERI SEJAKGOMO

Campaigns for November 6, 2021, Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) board have reached fever-pitch. Mmegi Sport Staff Writer, CALISTUS KOLANTSHO spoke to three presidential candidates, Ookeditse Malesu, Tirelo Mukokomani and incumbent, Botsang Tshenyego on their campaigns

MMEGI: Introduce yourself and your background in sport?

Malesu: I am a karateka, former Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president, former National Sport Associations (NSA) representative in the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) board and Botswana Football Association (BFA) chief executive officer (CEO).

MMEGI: Why did you decide to contest?

Malesu: I respect my two opponents and I cannot undermine them. Tshenyego and his team did what they could do. This is a relay and we feel that we have ideas that could improve their ideas.

MMEGI: It is not your first time to contest. What is new that you are bringing?

Malesu: I lost last time because I was a mokoko (independent candidate). It is not easy to win when you are an independent candidate. The first reason being that you do not have a manifesto and it is an indication that you cannot build a team. Building a team is not a small thing. Then I changed and said I wanted three women in my team. I was not going to just pick any woman, but would due to the works that they have done. We approached some of them but they declined for fear of sport politics.

MMEGI: What is your roadmap if elected?

Malesu: My team has come up with eight pillars, which we believe if implemented, sport challenges will be over, four Olympic medals in the next ones, eight Commonwealth medals and two beach games medals, National High Performance Policy, Long-Term Athletes Development Programme, a single High Performance Centre, four technical training centres, hosting of Commonwealth and Olympic qualifying events and sponsorship value creation. Money in sport comes from television rights, apparel and the sale of players. Japan generated a lot of money from television during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. I have nothing against anybody but I believe I can do this thing. If people believe I can do it, it is okay but if they do not vote for me, it is still fine.

MMEGI: Any thoughts on the proposed merger of BNOC and BNSC, and the review of the BNSC Act?

Malesu: We are excited about that because we want to make a policy. But it would be done with consultation with the codes in a symposium. In countries like Egypt where sport is run by Olympics, South Africa has SASCOC they both have teething problems. Certain codes do not need government interference so it is important to be cognisant of that point.

My team: Mooketsi Thari (senior vice president), Patrick Moesi (first vice president), Tiny Kgatlwane (second vice president) and two additional members, Irene Ntelamo and Tlamelo Dube. I have a space for another additional member that would be filled at the assembly.

MMEGI: Introduce yourself and your background in sport?

Mukokomani: Former president of Botswana Softball Association (BSA) from 2012 until 2018. I am a board member at World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) since 2017 to date.

MMEGI: Why did you decide to contest?

Mukokomani: The last elective BNOC congress was in 2017 were held a few months before the end of my second term as softball president. I was coerced into standing for elections for the BNOC presidency, but I refused because I felt I was not ready. My priority was softball. I had five months left to conclude my term. Now that I am standing, it was a natural progression that four years later, I would raise my hand. We accept that COVID-19 affected sport. I continued as a WBSC member and observed the amount of work that was being put in at WBSC despite COVID-19. I observed the type of diversity and thinking outside the box. The exceptional growth of e-gaming. These things are an evolution of any industry when there is a pandemic. The leadership had to think of non-conventional ways of continuing with activities. Businesses did not stop outright. Why was sport stopped outright. I have observed several lapses on missed opportunities. What happens to our athletes when they retire or get injured? What role do we play as NOC (National Olympic Committee)? What have we done to realise that sport is no longer just about playing but it is business? If we cannot think of sport as a business, we would never grow sport. I recognise the challenge that the NOC faced. What role can sport play to fight this pandemic?

MMEGI: What is your roadmap if elected?

Mukokomani: I believe that we can develop sport. When I was at softball, our senior men’s team was highly ranked. I understand finances could be a challenge but there are other ways to generate revenue rather than going to the government all the time. We do not have systems in place. I am not trying to bring unthinkable things. We just have to form strategic partnerships with companies that have expertise in talent identification, talent development, elite sport and post elitism. NOC has had a plot for years, it is sitting there. As a country, we deserve to have a world-class sporting facility. You can ask me where would I get the money? How many malls and buildings have been built in the last five years? Unions and pension funds are sitting with a lot of money, they do not know where to invest the money. All they need is a sound business case. I am not saying we would bring all NSAs to the same standard but some could bring much to our profile as a collective and help us generate income.

MMEGI: Your views on the proposed merger between BNOC and BNSC and the review of the BNSC Act?

Mukokomani: One issue that was always raised during general assemblies of the BNSC and BNOC has been the relationship between the two bodies. As affiliates, we concluded that the issue was made bigger than it was. I am privy to the BNSC constitution and Olympic charter but I am not privy to the recent matter that is being discussed. It is a priority for the new board to discuss it because it would define what happens in sport for the next four years. Mukokomani is running as an independent candidate.

MMEGI: Tshenyego, what motivated you to seek re-election?

Tshenyego: I am motivated by the power of sport to change people’s lives. Botswana sport has grown and still has a lot of room for improvement. I believe in continuous improvement. Development is a continuum. I do not see sport as games but as an enabler for many sustainable development goals pursued by society and the international community. I am a strong believer in the vision of the Olympic Movement, ‘making the world a better place through sport'. My experience, networks and strategic partnerships that I have forged in my first term would be crucial for taking the NOC to the next level of performance.

MMEGI: Reflect on your term in office?

Tshenyego: Being in a sport organisation you could be measuring many aspects of organisational development. The single most important criterion for determining sport performance is competition. The Gold Coast 2018 was our first outing in this term with unprecedented performance of three gold medals, one silver and a bronze. We had stretched ourselves for those games with a target of qualifying 37 athletes but only managed qualifying 27. This is by no standard a mean feat. Our target for Tokyo 2020 Games was two medals, but we only managed one. Having a team and three athletes in the finals at the Olympics is a huge achievement for sport and the country. And of course the icing on the cake, the bronze medal for the 4x400m relay. This is a major accomplishment. Athletes welfare is one of the hallmarks of my first term leading the BNOC team. Over and above the many athlete empowerment efforts, athletes that qualified for Tokyo 2020 went on government payroll. We are grateful to the government for additional support. There has been a marked improvement in athlete and team management incentives from the corporate sector. The last four years included organisational restructuring, which was completed in record time. One major milestone is the review of the BNOC Strategic Plan 2021-2024 with more alignment to the IOC Agenda 2020+5. One major project that was interrupted by the outbreak of COVID-19 was the launching of the High Performance Centre in partnership with the BNSC and the University of Botswana. I am confident it would be resuscitated soon. MMEGI: What is your roadmap if elected?

Tshenyego: Experience and knowledge will top the list. I have not shared this but already in my first term in office, I am a member of ANOCA Zone Six and lead the substructure on Prevention of Manipulation of Competition. This is Sport Integrity Project that is not just assigned mindlessly. It is credibility and integrity are confirmed. Continuity brings stability to an organisation and of course validate your continued stability. I teach sport management with an IOC accreditation. Being an ISO 9001 implementer and auditor, I bring a lot of systems thinking into the way the NOC does business.

MMEGI: What is your comment on the proposed BNOC and BNSC merger and the review of the BNSC Act?

Tshenyego: Different audiences understand the issue of Apex and merger differently. At the moment we are not discussing the possible merger of BNSC and BNOC. I have always supported restructuring as long as it is transformative. The BNOC has made formal inputs to the different permutations that were on the table. That is with our stakeholders. Any form of restructuring should have its own merits and demerits. The BNOC is a member-based organisation and as such is guided by the members. What we settle for should reflect our mandate and the interests of members. Any form of single affiliation for national federations would bring about efficiency in the value chain.

Editor's Comment
Keep your mask close

Wearing of masks behind closed doors has been mandatory following the government’s August decision that the public was freed from masking in outdoor spaces.According to a press statement from the ministry, all other remaining COVID-19 protocols such as social distancing in schools and requirements for vaccination or PCR tests at ports of entry have also been relaxed.Statistics still show that hundreds still die daily due to the pandemic around...

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