The Paralympic Association of Botswana (PASSOBO) has ushered in a new leadership during a Special General Assembly that was held over the weekend in Gaborone.
The new president is Tshepo Maferaka who won against Thuso Rasetapa. Maferaka beat Rasetapa with nine votes to five. The former president, Titus Letshwiti was contesting for the position of public relations officer but lost by nine votes to five to Lesley Baleseng. The vice president is Boikanyo Ratlou while the secretary-general is Lilian Ngwako.
Cynthia Masikara is the vice secretary-general and Mpho Pheto is an additional member. The new executive committee will be in office for four years. Speaking to Sport Monitor, Ratlou explained that he was in the same position before but only served for a year. “At first I was an additional member in the committee that was elected into office in 2017.
By then I wanted to learn a few things. When our then president, David Moatshe went for further studies, I was roped in as a vice president. So now I contested the elections because I want to improve a few things. The vice president is the head of technical,” he said. Ratlou said the plan is to continue where the previous committee left off. He said it was the first time for PASSOBO to qualify two athletes to the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games.
He said that was a good improvement and it is part of his ambition to see para sport grow to a level of being autonomous. “The structure puts us at the same level with Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). We both affiliate to international bodies, BNOC to International Olympic Committee (IOC) while we affiliate to International Paralympic Committee (IPC). We are given mandates in our country to see to it that we prepare athletes to compete at the Paralympics and Olympics. That is where our association should be.
But that cannot happen if we do not have a robust structure to put us at the same level as the BNOC,” Ratlou said. He said there should be a proper structure from talent identification to elite level. He said para sport should be taken to the people. Ratlou said there are other talented people with disabilities who are not able to represent their country due to lack of structures.
He said with the experience that he has, which includes being a para athlete, he has what it takes to develop proper structures under Paralympics so that it could be visible and also have a proper structure for athlete development. “Those are my immediate responsibilities. They have actually started after Tokyo 2020.
We are now building towards the upcoming two world championships and the Paris 2024 Paralympic Games. We want to increase the number of athletes that we would qualify for Paris,” he said. Ratlou said most athletes who have been active have been with vision impairment especially in athletics.
He said there are other sporting codes for people with disabilities which he intends to give a chance. He said with a high number of athletes, they stand a chance of winning more medals at international competitions.