Under-20 coaches left high and dry

Victorious: The Under-20 athletics team that competed at the World Championships in Kenya  PIC: BNOC
Victorious: The Under-20 athletics team that competed at the World Championships in Kenya PIC: BNOC

National Under-20 athletics coaches, Meleko Ndolo and Chilume Ntshwarang might have led the team to a high position of seventh out of 116 athletics associations at the World Athletics Championships held in Kenya in August, but the two have been left dry, after failing to reap financial rewards.

The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has categorically stated there will be no incentives for the team. Ndolo and Ntshwarang had approached the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) to request recognition in terms of incentives or at least appearance fees.

BAA elevated the matter to the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC), which in turn took the case to the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC). According to a letter from BNSC director, sport development - technical Bobby Gaseitsiwe following an inquiry from BAA, which needed clarity on the exclusion of junior athletes from incentive package for national players, BNSC consulted further with MYSC. The ministry referred BNSC to a 2012 Presidential directive. “Regarding the Presidential directive of 2012, the Ministry wishes to inform your office that this directive stipulates that appearance fees and performance incentives are for national team players and athletes.

Therefore, no junior teams or athletes have been paid appearance fees under this directive as it is for national teams athletes,” the letter reads. The letter further said the current review exercise and consultations lobby for the inclusion of junior athletes, players and teams.

The ministry also stated that appearance fees and performance incentives do not include junior athletes and teams unless they are in the national teams. Speaking to Mmegi Sport, Ndolo said their concern is that why as coaches are they regarded as juniors. “I am disappointed and discouraged. Looking at how much I spent preparing these juniors and now I am told that I cannot be rewarded.

How do you differentiate a junior athlete who competes in the senior team and get incentives and the one who is running for a junior team?” he quizzed. Ndolo said there is no difference in terms of costs when it comes to preparing athletes for competition. He pointed out that athletes eat, sleep, need perfect attire and travel to competitions amongst other things. For his part, Ntshwarang said as coaches they do not know what it would take for them to be recognised. “Maybe we do not add value but we see ourselves as important stakeholders in the performance of athletes. We cannot stop complaining because we invest a lot in these athletes. There is no support system at the bottom. In some instances, we take them from underprivileged families and provide them with accommodation.

We end up spending a lot of money on them,” he said. Ntshwarang said they train the athletes until they reach the World Championships stage. He said even if there was an incentive, it would not match what they had spent on preparing the athletes. Ntshwarang said when the athletes are recognised, coaches are always left out. “We also go an extra mile to search for new talent all the time. We have been doing this for a long time, bringing new talent that people did not know.

There is an existing structure of coaches that needs to be supported and recognised,” Ntshwarang said. Regarding MYSC position on the issue, Ntshwarang said it means there is no recognition for them as coaches of the junior team. He said the junior team coaches have a lot of work compared to senior team coaches because some of the senior athletes are independent and provide for themselves.

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