Saturday, December 2, 2023

BAA running athletes into the ground

Incompetency and lack of accountability at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) is threatening to trip local athletes.

The local athletics mother body is failing to provide the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) with athletes’ technical reports which is a pre-requisite for their scholarships and grants, sources have revealed.

The BAA is said to have failed to provide reports for the last two quadrennials, resulting with one athlete’s monthly allowances being stopped while jeopardising other athletes’ prospect for scholarships in the process.

Excelling local athletes are funded mostly through the International Olympic Committee (IOC) scholarships, which require reports before athletes funds can be disbursed.

BAA’s failure has already affected at least one athlete and others are likely to be affected should the status quo continue.

The said athlete, who has not received his allowances since July this year, is said to have been left with no option but to beg for donations to put food on the table.

While both the BAA and BNOC are coy with details and names of the affected athletes, Sunday Standard can reveal that at least six local runners are financed through funds sourced through the BNOC.

400m runners Isaac Makwala, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo and Sibanda as well as 800m track stars Nijel Amos and Boitumelo Masilo are recipients of BNOC sourced funding.

Aside from Masilo, who is funded under the Commonwealth Games Fund (CGF), all other athletes were under the Olympic Solidarity (OS) Continental Athlete Support Grant, which ended in August.

Poor accountability by the local athletics controlling body is said to have rubbed the BNOC the wrong way, with the latter calling for a meeting with the BAA this past Thursday.

Having initially lied that athletes were getting their monies as expected, BAA Public Relations Officer Ipolokeng Ramatshaba went back on the statement when pressed further.

The BAA PRO said he could neither confirm nor deny the allegations as they are ‘still trying to sort out the issues’ and advised this publication ‘to ask their source to furnish more information as the BAA could not do such.’

Reached for comment, BNOC Sports Development Manager Tapiwa Marobela confirmed they had stopped allowance payments for some athletes pending reports from the athletics association.

While she would not divulge names, the BNOC Sports Development Manager confirmed that one athlete had not received his monies for almost four months now as the BNOC is still awaiting technical reports.

“The situation is similar for all BAA athletes who are getting grants through the BNOC. We are yet to receive reports from the association and we therefore cannot and will not be able to process their payments or grants,” Marobela said.

She said due to lack of accountability by associations, it was long decided by BNOC affiliates that members should provide quadrennial reports for athletes under scholarships or grants so as to facilitate better solicitation of help from funders such as the International Olympic Committee.

Now with the agreements for athletes under Continental Athlete Support Grant having come to an end, the BNOC may also find it difficult to access funds for athletes under the same programme as they do not have their reports.

“Just as with BNOC, funders need to see reports to establish if there is a return on their investment. Where progress reports are not availed, funds cannot be accessed and payments cannot be made,” Masunga explained.

Concerning the BAA, Masunga said the association had failed to provide reports dating as far back as to April.

“The BNOC awaits quarterly progress reports before funds can be released as per the scholarship agreement. BAA has been reminded to submit the report,” Masunga concluded.


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