When the president of the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF) Lord Sebastian Coe was in town this past weekend, his address to members of the press lasted for only six minutes.
In his six- minute address, Coe was careful enough with words not to commit nor make any promises. The IAAF president picked his lines well and the only thing he repeatedly voiced was that he had met with key stakeholders to discuss issues surrounding athletics.
BG Sport was informed by the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) that Coe met with the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng and went on to have a meeting with the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). However, details of whatever was discussed behind closed doors remain a mystery.
Ahead of Coe’s visit, BAA had made it clear that it hopes that the IAAF president would assist them develop athletics locally. The biggest challenge has always been lack of funds, “We need that man to come to our rescue, we are doing well in 400m however we need to upgrade and include field events,” BAA president Thari Mooketsi had said.
Meanwhile, when he addressed the media, Coe said that he had a detailed discussion about the future of athletics in Botswana and how they can help the country. “We have discussed a range of issues ranging from coaching and ability to encourage people into the sport. We also talked about continuing to reform the sport and ensure it is in alignment with political leadership particularly around health and education,” Coe said.
Asked if there was any financial assistance Botswana could benefit from IAAF in the near future, Coe said that the BAA should apply for the Olympic Athletics Dividend to help with development.He further said that if BAA wants a training facility erected in Botswana, BAA will have to go through the Confederation of African Athletics (CAA) and it will be their judgement about the best places to put the training venues and coach education programmes.
The BAA spokesperson, Ipolokeng Ramatshaba told this publication that they are pacing behind time to develop the BAA plot allocated in Block 8 Gaborone. According to him, the plot has been undeveloped for the past three years and they fear that it might soon be repossessed if they do not act fast.
“We cannot reveal deadlines of when to expect improvements however we remain confident that Coe will not neglect our cries, he has promised to offer us assistance,” he said.In other matters and speaking on the sidelines of the press briefing, Coe told BG Sport that Batswana should forget about the 2017 Makwala saga and move on.
The IAAF controversially barred 400m runner Isaac Makwala from running during the London World Championships over allegations that he might have contracted the contagious Noro Virus.It was for the very first time this year that Coe addressed Botswana about the matter directly. “What happened has happened and it was a long time ago, they should let it all go,” Coe said. BAA has also indicated that they have buried the matter and there is nothing more to it.