The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) will tomorrow host the National sports awards ceremony at the Baisago Convention Centre. The biggest question however is if Ofentse Bakwadi of Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) will finally receive the Sports person of the year crown or not.
Bakwadi, a four -time consecutive sports man of the year nominee has seen the biggest award of sports person elude him perennially. Back in 2016, Zibani Chikanda of Boxing beat him to the race, in 2017; Karabo Sibanda of athletics bagged it while last year, it was Emmanuel Kgaboetsile, a Badminton Umpire who was named the man of the night.
It remains to be seen if the 34 year old will this time around smile all the way to the bank or he still has to play the waiting game a little bit longer. Shaykex, as he is known to his peers specializes in Kata and has in the past few years conquered Africa and named continent champion. He comes to the glitz and glamour night having won Bronze in individual Kata at the commonwealth championships last year and also won silver at the Africa Karate Championships in Rwanda.“I really want the sportsperson award with every fibre of my being, I have won the sports man back in 2012 and in 2017 but I never got the taste of the glamorous award,” Bakwadi said this week.
Baboloki Thebe, the 400 m runner, will also come as a dangerous threat to Bakwadi’s envisioned kingdom. Thebe, who has seen his career marred with life threatening injuries, finally rose to the occasion last year after being downed for some time. The young athlete won Gold at the 2018 Africa Athletics Championships and scooped silver at the commonwealth games. He also assisted the 4x400m men’s team win Gold at the same competition. It will be a much needed breakthrough that Thebe has been longing for, the young athlete has been living under the shadows and lime -light might be what he needs ahead of the upcoming 2020 Olympics. Both Thebe and Sibanda burst into the athletics scenes a few years back and Sibanda was somehow fortunate to win both the sports man and sports person award back in 2017.
On the ladies’ side, Christine Botlogetswe, 400m runner appears well positioned to get the sports woman award. Botlogetswe, who recently earned herself a name of ‘PB’ for personal best, had a relatively good year too. She helped the ladies 4x400m relay team win bronze at the commonwealth games and also a silver medalist at the 2018 Africa Championships.
However, Gaoleseletse Gasekgonwe of Volleyball is also anxiously waiting to learn if she too will be named amongst the best. Gasekgonwe has proved to be a most valuable player locally and was selected best attacker at the Zone VI Club Championships.The junior female category and one of the highly contested areas has Entle Maungwa, who outdid herself by winning bronze in the female individual Kata at the Africa Karate championships. Besa Masaite of Chess had a rich year conquering both Africa and dominating local competitions.
She also made her maiden appearance at the Chess Olympiad. Another possible winner is in Oarabile Tshosa who was placed 5th at the International Schools Championship in Morocco and a bronze medalist during the 100m battle of Region 5 games. Other nominees include James Freeman of swimming, Bernard Olesitse of Athletics and Denzel Seetso from Tennis under the junior male sportsperson.
Familiar names of Tshepo Bathai (Karate) and Mothokomedi Thabano (Chess) made it back to the sports administrator list together with Duncan Segabo of BOTESSA. Mogomotsi Otsetswe of Athletics will clash with Peter Molefhe of Karate for the coach of the year accolade while Edwin Masuge, Bose Mokgwathi and Bonolo Joseph are lined up for the sportsperson with Disability male category
Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is allegedly struggling to pay athletes their appearance fees and there is overwhelming fear that the payments meant to reward athletes might be halted in the near future.
The BNSC sometime last year announced that it had taken a decision to put an end to the national team monthly allowance that was given to Volleyball and Football players. It was alleged at the time that the money took a long time to reach athletes and other codes had started complaining of neglect. Currently and following a great showing in Seychelles this past weekend by the Zebras team, the mood in the camp is relatively low. BG Sport understands that the ugly monster of unpaid appearance fees is still haunting Botswana Football Association (BFA).
Some players managed to show a brave face, claiming all is well and that they are determined to bring positive results home however, the heat is becoming unbearable and might reach boiling point. The Zebras players are owed appearance fees dating back to the AFCON qualifier game against Mauritania played last year. To this end, the Zebras made three more national appearances suggesting that they are owed money amounting to P14 000 for each player. Meanwhile, the team is expected to compete at the upcoming 2019 COSAFA tournament to be staged in South Africa next week. However, one official at BFA mentioned that the BNSC is contemplating on paying players a once off appearance fee of P3 500 regardless of the number of games played by the Zebras at the tournament. The team was in the past paid P 3 500 for each national appearance they made.
In an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane confirmed that there has been delays in paying the athletes but pointed that the money is paid by government through Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC). BFA, he explains, was responsible for the daily allowance of P100 per day spent in camp. Mpatane was quick to defend that even though the team travelled without the allowances to Seychelles, the money was deposited into their accounts upon return this past Monday.
Majority if not all when approached by this publication after the Seychelles game refused to comment or react to the matter of their pending appearance fees, many of them simply said they do not want to be in the bad books of sport authorities. This publication would later gather through a few that preferred to speak on condition of anonymity that players fear being vocal, as they believe they will be victimized in future and dropped from the national team.
“We are expected to bring results but sometimes we are demoralized by such because if the debt keeps going higher chances of us ever being paid are getting slim,” one player explained. Another added that in fact there are some players who were not in the current squad and now playing internationally who are still owed their dues from as far as 2017. A BFA official close to the matter noted that there have been instances where the technical team together with the coach finds it difficult to call players to camp as they keep asking about their dues.
“It’s a problematic scenery and fault on our part because they are assured that their needs will be a priority but owed huge sums,” the BFA official explained. Some time last year, the disgruntled players resorted to striking and threatening to boycott camp and it would be unfortunate should the ugly scenes resurface. Nevertheless BNSC’s Development Officer Bobby Gaseitsiwe dismissed claims that there are plans to stop the appearance fees but said the allegations are false and misleading. If anything, they intend to review the incentive for the better.
Gaseitsiwe added that they actually paid all appearance fees debt this past Wednesday and the payment should reach athletes latest by today (Friday). “It is not only football but all other codes,” he assured. He explained that the process of paying athletes was long hence the delay saying there are many stages that the list submitted to them has to go through. Gaseisitswe advised players to exercise patience because regardless of the long process, they will always do right by players and pay them.
Meanwhile as a way of motivating players, the BFA president Maclean Letshwiti this week announced that he raised P100 000 to be shared amongst players and the technical team. Letshwiti said the team did well by humiliating Seychelles with a 5-1 score on aggregate and proceeding to the second round of 2020 CHAN qualifiers.
The wait continues as the local sporting fraternity is anxious to learn of the name of the next Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Chairperson. This is after Solomon ‘Solly’ Reikeletseng, the immediate past Chairperson, resigned a fortnight ago. Names of potential candidates have been thrown around, endorsements made but nobody is certain of anything while only one man, the minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tshekedi Khama is anticipated to bring the matter to conclusion.
The Ministry has explained that the process of finding a suitable candidate is ongoing and a name will be released soon. Meanwhile, National Sport Associations (NSAs) as the key sports deliverables, have wasted no time but came out to define and propose their ideal candidate. Their hope is that the minister brings forward a name that is well acquainted in terms of sports needs. According to some, the ideal candidate should not be an imitation of Reikeletseng but be their own rolling wheel that will drive forward the mandate of BNSC. When speaking to BG Sport in an interview, the President of Botswana Golf Union Enoch Mushango’s words were sharp as an arrow, “Botswana needs new age thinkers with visionary leadership skills and not those who will come and align themselves with certain sport codes. Blind leaders will not take us anywhere, we need strategic thinkers with a firm backbone to make informed decisions,” he said.
Mushango is of the view that NSAs are a reflection of what is happening at club level, with that, associations should be listened to and allowed to express their opinions. He said it was sad that in some instances they are sidelined during meetings, when they should actually be the ones to determine the agenda of the day. If it were up to Mushango, the NSAs would propose the name while the minister assesses all the recommendations before making his final decision. “If the Minister is really looking for quality, he should know better than appointing someone who is not passionate about sport because NSAs will frustrate him and he will be pushed out in no time,” Mushango said. He added that the minister is spoilt for choice as Botswana has many capable minds.
Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) Tshepo Bathai noted that the next chairperson should be someone who is a turnaround specialist with great ethics and a good administrator, “The focus area should be on the review of the current policies because they are not working out for sporting codes, all of them need to be improved,” Bathai said. Bathai added that Tshekedi should appoint someone with a vast experience in sports, public and private service and at least having held executive positions in all those. “Corporate and Board experience is vital because the chairperson will be responsible for directing the BNSC board and management but above all, someone who will be loved and supported by most NSAs,” he said.
Thato Patlakwe, the president of Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) wants nothing but that the incoming boss pays close attention to schools and club development. Patlakwe is of the view that more attention needs to be paid to development especially at club level saying challenges encountered at that level hinder development. For him, clubs are what make BoBA but because of the limited resources, they are unable to produce desired results. “We appreciate what BNSC is offering but I really wish they can assist clubs, I mean if there are things such as constituency leagues, I do not believe that it would be impossible to offer clubs financial support,” he said.
Maclean Letshwiti of Botswana Football Association (BFA) said that the commission has been in existence for a very long time and perhaps it was time the objectives were revisited and their relevance checked. He explained that the BNSC needs a mature brain that is not only after the top position but will be passionate about the job. Former Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) President Negroes Kgosietsile added that there is need to offload the human resource structure to enhance capacity. “In my opinion, BNSC can do with less staff compared with federations. In doing such we will address capacity without increasing the wage bill,” he said. Kgosietsile expressed concern that athletes' welfare is also limited to some extent because much attention is given to professional athletes, which he said compromises development.
The President of Botswana Cycling Association (BCA) Mmetla Masire has expressed concern that it appears Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is dragging its feet on the 2018 Sport Pitso resolutions made early this year in Palapye. Masire voiced his concerns when reacting to Solly Reikeletseng, the BNSC chairman’s remarks during the BNSC Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Gaborone this week.
“You make reference to the Sports Pitso that was held in Palapye, it is very painful when I hear you make reference to that event given the fact that we took it very seriously, however it’s beginning to transpire that maybe the meeting was not so serious, all is silent on the outcomes,” he said.
Masire recalled that the BNSC pushed National Sports Associations around demanding recommendations upon return and they also put in a great effort also, to deliver what was expected of them and worked long extra hours.
The BCA president shared that what saddened him to the core was that the Pitso was even attended by the Minister of Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng, that to him was indeed a sign that they had gathered at the meeting for serious things that needed immediate attention, however they have received nothing to this end and it was worrisome.
Some of the resolutions made at the Sports Pitso meeting were the need to rehabilitate the athletes’ village in block nine. The village used mainly by athletes when in national team call up was reported not habitable with the septic tanks said to be an eyesore, old furniture and torn electric wiring and the fire extinguishers that have not been functioning since 2015.
BNSC was also to prioritize funding for people living with disabilities and improve their support services and also make proposal to government to allocate a quota of proceeds of alcohol levy to funding the sport.
When responding to the matter, Reikeletseng noted that they be given time to continue working on the resolutions saying that some proved a bit challenging to achieve, “The difficulty was how they were structured and how to resolve their funding aspect. I believe for now what we can do is to revise each and try to find how best to approach them,” Reikeletseng said.
In other matters, Reikeletseng has advised leaders of different sporting codes to take control of their associations, saying the local sport is under siege. He said they should be firm in their decision making because they have all the powers and that, the BNSC will be there to protect them.
The Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer, Falcon Sedimo says the current guidelines they use to choose winners of the Annual National Sports Awards will continue to be used until they are reviewed.
This follows an uproar that ensued when Botswana Badminton Association (BBA) Umpire Emmanuel Kgaboetsile was declared the winner of the 2018 Sports Person of the year last week. The award saw the sport fraternity that had filled Baisago Convention Centre frown at the BNSC’s choice of a winner.
This week, there has been a call from various stakeholders that BNSC needs to review its policies as it was not fair for administrators to compete with athletes for the Sports Person of the year award. The weekend turnout of events came more of a shock to some as the award has never been won by an administrator before.
When reached, Sedimo said that it might have never happened that an administrator wins the prestigious award but it was well within the guidelines. He added that if National Sport Associations (NSAs) feel that the guidelines are not favourable to any entity, the Associations are at liberty to state so and their desires will be implemented.
Quizzed if the BNSC does not fear there could be conflict of interest since decisions by coaches and umpires have a bearing or influence on the performance of athletes, he said, “Coaches and administrators have a code of conduct that regulates them. Anybody who misdirects himself or herself will be dealt with accordingly.”
Meanwhile, allegations making rounds are that the 400m runner, Isaac Makwala who was declared the sportsman of the year might not be in good books with the BNSC. The 2018 Commonwealth games gold medalist was absent during the glitz and glamour night after he had told this publication three days prior the event that he had not received any invite to the awards ceremony.
“Where is this coming from? The BNSC does not deal with individual athletes or players. The commission has a relationship with NSA’s who submit nominees for adjudication,” Sedimo said.The BNSC CEO further said that only NSA’s were charged with the responsibility to communicate directly with athletes.