The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYESCD) has splashed a whopping P4 million towards the upcoming Africa Youth games penciled for Algeria from the 19th until 28th July. However, the final national team is expected trimmed to suit the budget.
According to Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho who spoke to this publication in an interview this week, the financial aid is meant to cover all expenses including the games preparations.
However, Serufho said when finalizing the team list, they will be forced to make alterations so that it fits the allocated budget.
He said BNOC relied heavily on the ministry for assistance, with that, they are forced to work with what they have received. The BNOC boss said that the ministry has recommended that a team of only 45 athletes should be selected for the games. The final team list will be communicated to all stakeholders either this week or early next week.
“If it was possible, we would send a bigger number to Algeria because the youth games play a pivotal role in unearthing hidden talent locally,” Serufho said.
Serufho said it was during the 2010 inaugural youth games in Morocco that the likes of the 2012 Summer Olympics Silver medalist Nijel Amos were discovered. Female sprinter Leungo Matlhaku was discovered during the same period when she won a gold medal in her 200m run. The event saw Botswana returning home with a total of six medals.
The second edition of the games was held in Gaborone in 2014 and Botswana witnessed the rise of 400m stars Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda, there was also Otukile Mohammed from the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA). The country recorded more than 30 medals during the competition.
Going into the 2018 games, the BNOC boss said they expect to discover hidden talent once again. Nevertheless, Serufho said they would not put pressure on the athletes by expecting them to bring a specified number of medals home.
Quizzed on team preparations, Serufho said that even though they only managed to finalize the funding logistics earlier this week and they expect the team to be highly competitive in Algeria.
Meanwhile sometime last week, the BNOC found itself in an awkward situation and even instructed sport codes to suspend preparations citing financial constraints, as MYESCD had not released the funds. This meant that all plans made by sporting codes were cancelled, however some are reported to have left for South Africa earlier this week. “I can confirm that Cycling and Table Tennis have left, it was a delay on our side however it was sorted,” Serufho said.
Nevertheless, BG Sport has been reliably informed that the Badminton team is still stranded in Gaborone. The team was scheduled to leave for South Africa for the under 19 Championship that started this week. Quizzed on why they could not compete at the championship, Botswana Badminton Association (BBA) spokesperson Barulaganye Ncube said BNOC advised them to stay put at the national camp which started on 21st June.
Ncube said the BNOC alerted affiliates of pending finances from MYESD. He explained BNOC has booked the team of eight in one hotel situated in Block 9.
Nevertheless, some of the athletes forming the Badminton team argued that they are not happy and fear that they will be axed from the team heading to Algeria. “If other codes finally managed to travel outside the country, it means we might be excluded when the official team list is released,” they argued. When brought to speed, Serufho said he could not comment on the matter or even name codes that will represent the country in Algeria. He said as BNOC, they will select the national team without fear or favour and those that have been dropped will be officially informed.