Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) has defended their brand after being grilled by one of their elite athletes on social media platforms.
This follows injured 400m sprinter Onkabetse Nkobolo’s involvement in a car accident that left him wheel chair bound. Recovering from his home town in Francistown, Nkobolo vented out that he is forgotten despite raising the nation’s flag during his sprinting times.
On his social media rant, Nkobolo said: “When you do well in sport everyone rallies behind you. But when you are down everyone supports you for a few weeks and they forget about you. It seems you never existed in lifting the national flag high,”
In an interview with Sunday Standard, BAA president Botlhale Paphane rubbished the matter narrating that they have done their best ensuring that Nkobolo’s welfare is taken care of by relevant authorities since his unfortunate incident.
He said Nkobolo is only venting out anger out of frustration and loneliness he suffered during his hospitalization.
“Nkobolo is venting out due to frustrations as he is still uncertain about his athletics career. We saw his utterances on social media and our board is closely looking into the matter. We understand his frustrations. I will be meeting him soon to clear the air on the matter. Government and the athletics association have been doing their utmost best to make sure that all his needs are covered and believe we will continue assist to our level best,” Paphane told Sunday Standard.
However, Paphane acknowledged their shortfall in affording the athlete psychological support during the trying times. ‘
“The Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) and BAA does not have a full-time psychologist and have not been much active on the matter. There have been a few psychologists who have been working with him but we realize it was not enough. The athlete got injured during the pandemic and there has been little travel and restrictions on checking patients at hospitals so the loneliness and frustration has taken its toll. We have also realized that even sending the association manager to check on him is not enough as the feedback we get is that he wants to see some of us personally and I have committed to visit him shortly,” said Paphane.
Asked whether or not the athlete’s welfare is being taken care of, Paphane said: “The fact remains that the association does not pay athletes but have gone an extra mile in making sure that Nkobolo’s recovery is well taken care. We are in constant contact with his parents to ensure his needs are availed.”