The government and Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) incentives to the Olympic 4x400m relay team has sparked uproar as some sections of the sporting fraternity are accusing the political lords of pulling a political stunt.
It has since emerged that the two bedroomed houses that were given to the bronze medallists are not government nor BNSC/BNOC sport policies. While the BNSC Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Tuelo Serufho could not comment on how the housing incentives came about, he says he was pleased that athletes were given houses as incentives.
“It is long overdue for our athletes to have been sufficiently incentivised because of the sacrifices they make to make the nation proud. Other countries are giving far much better incentives because they do not want see their athletes to suffer after putting their county on the world map,” he said.
Serufho further explained that he is sure it is a sustainable thing to give incentives in the form of house for their athletes in the future.
“President Mokgweetsi Masisi made a commitment to the athletes the last time he met them that they must expect something bigger going forward. So, in the next Olympics those who win medals must expect better incentives than the two bedroomed houses”
Asked if it will be sustainable going forward, Serufho answered in the affirmative. “Yes, it will be sustainable and doable. Our population is small and we do not expect truckloads of medals from single Olympics and they happen every four years. It will require planning,” he explained.
When reached for comment, sport commentator Jimmy George said “It is a noble decision but one riddled with controversy precisely because at the level of the Minister, one is able to affect change through policy. Any form of incentives could have been a long thought after process that is both sustainable and mutually beneficial…. Maybe an elite scholarship to a prestigious sport college.”
He further explained that “Athletes should know beforehand the material incentives if any of qualifying for the Olympics, making it to the finals and winning a medal. This will help to put undue anxiety on athletes when there are on duty.”
Sport administrator, Emmanuel Seiphetlho is of the view that the houses are good thing to have been given to the athletes. “It is a commendable initiative. Unlike cars and other things houses in terms of value appreciates it never depreciate,” he said.
He further observed that the gesture of incentivising athletes with houses will also encourage young ones to join sport because they will be sure what sport can do for them.
Meanwhile, Serufho further explained that they are in the process of reviewing incentives policy because the current one is out dated.
He said the nation should expect better incentives for the national athletes who represent the country at the Olympics. He could not say whether they will only review the Olympics incentives save to say ” let the whole exercise of reviewing the policy end and see how it comes out”.
He assured the nation that they should expect better houses than the current ones for those who will win in future Olympics competitions.
In the current policy the Olympic gold, silver and bronze medal winners get P100 000, P75 000 and P50 000 respectively. Serufho confirmed that the adjustment will be made upward and to cater even for athletes who won, who participated and the support personnel.