Tuesday, 22 January 2019 16:23

BAA president fancies re-election

The President of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Thari Mooketsi might contest for presidency again during the BAA elective Annual General Meeting (AGM) billed for later this year. BG Sport has been reliably informed by BAA affiliates that Mooketsi together with other members of the BAA executive committee are repositioning themselves well to retain their titles. It is alleged that they are busy with their campaign strategies and begging the support of close friends and affiliates during the elections.

“He came to us saying he will be seeking another term this year and we are shocked because initially it was said that he had no interest in running as president,” said the source that preferred anonymity. Mooketsi took over the reins at BAA on April 2017. At the time of ascending to presidency two years back, Mooketsi was faced with a mammoth task of restoring sanity to BAA. The Association was at the time engrossed in internal fighting.

Mooketsi’s return came as a shock to some given that he had served as BAA president previously. However he was ousted by a number of no confidence motions. It remains questionable as to whether the confidence has been restored on the president and if he will be able to captain the ship better unlike before. From a distance, it appears that not much has changed; the Association is still struggling financially despite being the best performing code locally.

BAA is finding it hard to secure even a single sponsorship. Moreover, there are still noticeable divisions within the Association; the Mooketsi led committee has on some occasions been labelled as difficult by affiliates. Even athletes have on many occasions decried that their welfare was compromised and even accused BAA of neglecting their needs. When reached, Mooketsi played his cards close to his chest saying that he was still undecided, “I have so many things to deal with at the moment and I have not really given it much thought,” he said in between giggles.

Mooketsi noted that the BAA presidency is not something to take lightly as he needs to reassess what he has achieved and what he will offer if he is to remain in power. He explained that at the moment he is looking forward to the Ordinary General Meeting (OGM) to be held in February. At the meeting the expectation is that affiliates will approve of the drafted rules and regulations meant to guide the association. For his part, the president of the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) Moses Bantsi said that he was not one to judge who is better placed to lead BAA. “All I can do is to support and work with any administration that is elected into power,” he said.

He said it was not easy to be in leadership positions and instead of criticizing all should come together to ensure that the Association mandate moves forward. “I am impressed by the athletes' consistency, they have been representing the country well out there despite the financial difficulties of the association,” Bantsi said. The CAA president went on to say that it becomes difficult to achieve set mandates without financial resources, saying even during his time as BAA president, there were certain things he wanted to achieve but could not.

He gave BAA a pat on the shoulder for seeing to it that IAAF president came to Botswana, for the very first time. Coe was in Botswana two months back.

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Former International 800m star Glody Dube believes that the alteration of the qualifying times for the 2019 IAAF World Championships which will be held in Doha, Qatar will not affect local athletes but rather give them a better chance of qualifying to these impending major events.

This year’s IAAF World Championships qualifying standards have been made slightly different from that of 2017 in London, England. Both marathon marks are faster-from 2:19:00 to 2:16:00 for the men’s event and from 2:45:00 to 2:37:00 for the women’s. As for short races; 100m- from 11:26 to 11:24 for the women and from 10:12 to 10:10 for the men’s event, in 200m- 23:10 to 23:02 for the women and from 20:44 to 20:40 for the men’s. Moreover, in 400m- from 52:10 to 51:80 for the women and from 45:50 to 45:30 for the men’s and 800m- from 2:01.00 to 2:00.60 for the women and from 1:45.90 to 1:45.80 just to mention a few.

Dube told BG Sport this week that, these sudden changes (times) will only act as a motivating tool for local athletes to perform well, “Our athletes are bound to perform to their utmost best as they will be influenced by the changed times. I expect massive performances from our local athletes. I do not see anything wrong with these changes thus are a welcoming development to our sport”.

On the other hand, one of the local prestigious marathon runner Rapula Diphoko said he only heard rumours about the new qualifying standards, “I just resumed training, trying to bring myself back to shape and I heard hearsays about these developments. I am yet to see them so that I can be able to appreciate them better as well. My ambition is to qualify for the World Championships regardless of the time changes, and I am going to work really hard to achieve my desired goals,” said Diphoko.

Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) President Thari Mooketsi said the qualifying standards for the World Championships are not bad, “The changes are not bad at all, and it will just depend on every individual (athletes) to pull up their socks and eventually qualify for the Championships. Furthermore, the World Championships are scheduled for September which provides us with ample time to prepare and do better, come the day,” said Mooketsi.

BAA President further said they (Association) are aiming high for this year’s IAAF World Championships, “In most cases for the national team, we always target for 14 to qualify but now we are aiming 20 because there are some few individuals that have emerged from the shadows. For instance, there is one from long jump and the others for relay (4x1) that we hope will add on to 14 to make it 20,” he said.The 2019 IAAF World Championships which are billed to be hosted in Doha, Qatar will take place in September 28th until the October 6th.

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The political animosity and instability that have recently bedeviled the local track and field governing body is expected to come to an end following the reshuffling of the BAA executive committee on Saturday.
The local track and field governing body has a mammoth task ahead as the corporate sector lost confidence in the association following   well-publicized infighting. The association will have to redefine its development structures, revamp school of excellence programme and improve relationship with schools’ sports associations. 

“I do not want to see athletes registering for competitions individually. I want to make sure clubs exist in their true nature and have more athletes”, said Mooketsi. The BAA president said he wants to restore sanity at the association, which has never had a president who completed his term since 2010 as affiliates tabled motions of no confidence on their executive committees.
Thari blamed the infighting at BAA on leaders from affiliates who want to be rewarded for voting in certain people. But he declined to elaborate. Thari possesses vast experience in sport leadership, which goes back to the 80s, having served as secretary general of the then south central regional football association.

He played part in the formation of African Universities Sport Federation (FASO), also a founding member of Lefika club, and participated in formation of the premier league, which is now called Botswana Tertiary Schools Sports Association. Thari lamented that BAA affiliates exist as members but athletes suffer as these clubs are without active leadership, which sometimes forces athletes to move from one club to another. The defiant Thari believes that it is time to restructure athletics and increase number of regions.
“Athletes come and go but clubs remain. Secondly there is need to extend regions to spread athletics across the country”, explained BAA president. Thari shied away from relating his relationship with his predecessor. “I cannot say we have a good relationship or we do not”, said Thari.

The new administration was ushered into office by affiliates on Saturday in Gaborone. The association had to call a special general assembly 21 days after Moses Bantsi, Legojane, Glody Dube and Ronald Masalila resigned. The outgoing president Bantsi and Thari have overthrown one another since 2010. Bantsi and other executive committee members resigned after the affiliates tabled a motion of no confidence on their Secretary General Kebaitse Legojane.
Thari, who is expected to lead BAA to the next elective AGM in 2019, must act fast since local competitions must continue as well as preparations for the 2017 Bahamas relays and world champions in London. The newly elected president claimed that his administration has hit the road running with the hosting of track & field event on Saturday at Francistown Sports Complex at 1400hrs.
This event is organised as part of the BAA planned calendar of events and will be used by national team coaches to select the team that will compete at the World Championships in August. The newly elected committee is made up of known administrators in BAA circles. 

Thari Mooketsi from Lefika Athletics Club was unopposed for the top position; the controversial Kenneth Kikwe from Orapa Athletics Club was also unopposed for the position of vice president technical. Raymond Phale of Francistown Athletics Club defeated Kelebogile Mogapi from Serowe Athletics Club by 21-2 votes for the position of Secretary General. BAA affiliates elected Ipolokeng Ramatshaba of Mmadinare Athletics Club who had to battle it out with Lulu Basinyi of Palapye Athletics Club for the position of publicity secretary. Ramatshaba won by 19 votes against 4.

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