The sportsperson of the year award goes to Botswana Badminton Association (BBA) Umpire Emmanuel Kgaboetsile. This is one statement that sent shockwaves across the local sporting fraternity during the 2018 Botswana Annual National Sports Awards glitz and glamour night held in Gaborone three months back. It was for the first time in history and during the 38th edition of the annual awards ceremony that an administrator won the sportsperson of the year award. Throughout the years, the award has always been won by an athlete, actually majority if not all even assumed that the sportsperson of the year award had to be won by either the sports woman/man of the year.
Even the winner Kgaboetsile, struggled to walk up to the podium when his name was called out, unsure if he was in dreamland or all was real. Like a thief, his eyes pierced through all corners of the room, not sure whether to react to the call or remain seated. He took it as some sort of a prank or mistake. When he finally responded to the call, he said, “I am not sure if this is some kind of a mistake because I was not even a nominee,” panic had clearly engulfed him. He almost refused to receive a massive P100 000 Debswana Mining Company Cheque. As for the sport community, thrown into total confused state; displeasure and shock shouted at the top of their voices.
Many demanded answers as to why BNSC would make coaches and athletes compete for the sportsperson of the year award. They were of the opinion that it was unfair in the sense that the same administrators are responsible to ensure that athletes excel and perform well and therefore this opened space for conflict of interest.However, BNSC has since directed all to the BNSC awards policy which states that the sportsperson award is not limited to athletes but also includes administrators, coaches and even referees. BNSC says the policy can only be changed by National Sport Associations if they feel it is unfair.
JELE SLAPPED WITH SUSPENSION
The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) received a gut punch when International female runner Lydia Jele was slapped with a four-year ban by the International Association of Athletics Federation (IAAF). Jele tested positive to a banned substance when she underwent an out of competition doping control test in Gaborone last year.
The judgment was finally delivered this year and this meant that Jele, who was in the peak of her career will be out of action for the next two years. Jele's suspension came at a time when Botswana was still nursing an open wound following Amantle Montsho‘s doping case back in 2014.
Montsho, the 2018 Commonwealth games gold medallist returned to running in 2016 and still making a recovery from the damaging 2014 scandal. BAA is currently restless and on damage control initiatives to ensure that local athletes do not continue falling prey to doping, an enemy that is threatening to crumble the best performing sporting code in Botswana.