Monday, June 24, 2024

Athletes express their frustrations during summit

Sport Management Agency (SMA) held a summit to discuss critical safety measures for athletes, especially girls and women in Sports.

Athletes emotionally shared their ordeal in sport and with the ascendancy of abuses and harassment to girls. 

The summit was organised for athletes to be trained on safe sport and their rights. The meeting was under the theme “My Safety, My Right.” The safeguarding athletes’ summit wanted to share their challenges and risks they face in pursuit of their careers in sport. 

“We have experienced harassment in sport, some administrators and coaches will sexually harass us (athletes), some want to be visited at homes for sexual favours and body shaming,” revealed the athletes during the summit.

Some athletes were concerned that sometimes selection into the national team is not based on merit but association to the powerful people and having money, “When we go for competitions outside the country we can be asked to contribute for the air tickets but if you don’t have money you are dropped and undeserving athletes because she/has has money they go. This is unfair and discouraging to the poor kid.” said one participant.

On negligence, the athletes complained that once they are injured the national federations and local sport governing bodies (Botswana National Sport Commission and Botswana national Olympic Committee) neglect them.

 “Our parents are reluctant in allowing us to us to partake in sport because they have seen athletes neglected by federations once they are injured. The parents will be overburdened by taking paying expensive medical bills to rehabilitate their injured kids. This is bad. When cannot represent the country and be left on our own. 

They also complained about failure by  federations to honour their promises by paying them allowances. In some cases athletes are paid nothing which they said  demoralizes them because they are in sports to make a living out of participating in competitions.

The moderators and athletes at the summit were adamant that elements of abuse and harassment in sport should be eliminated forthwith. They conquered that there is need to train and share ideas on how girl child can be protected from all sorts of abuse.

The directors of SMA, Game Mothibi and Tsosi Magang urged National Sport federations to have policies and regulations in place to eliminate abuse and risks in sport for athletes to have conducive and safe environment in sport. “Safe sport is a must not an option. The sport environment must be safe for all participants, administrators, coaches, athletes and support personnel” Mothibi emphasized.

Magang observed that Safeguarding cannot be done by one person but it needs all stakeholders to come together so that the ills in sport can be eliminated

The former athlete, Magang also noticed that there is need to educate athletes on abuse they face, there is sexual abuse, emotional and physical abuses which jealously athletes need to be protected against. In some instances there are issues of negligence where athletes concerns are not attended to which discourage athletes and end up being emotionally drained.

Magang observed that sport must be inclusive and safe for all.  The major challenges in achieving safe sport is that abuses in sport are not reported which leave perpetrators to walk away with murder. 

On Wednesday, Botswana Football Association (BFA) suspended former National Executive Committee member, Sinki Sesenyi on allegations of sexual harassment to one of the female players.

Topics discussed during the summit were “I Want to Play Sport,” “Why Athletes Don’t Speak Up,” and “Establishing Safe Spaces for Athletes.”


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