Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Coaches Eat Crumbs as Athletes Dine at the Buffet Table

In what is now a norm, athletes who perform well at international stage are handsomely rewarded. For officials and coaches who work with these athletes however, the opposite is true.

Following the recent awarding of housing units to the men’s 4X400m relay team, which also came at the back of some monetary incentives to them, the deliberate snub or sidelining of coaches and officials is now raising eyebrows.

In a recent Facebook post, Botswana sports Hall of Fame inductee and former athlete Raj Rathedi observed that “if Justice Dipeba was in a country more serious about Sports Achievements … and development, as head coach of the Botswana Tokyo Olympics 4x400m Relay Team, he would have received a huge bonus, maybe a top range Benz, ON TOP of that Flat that unfortunately he was not even considered for. May be the problem is Justice himself. Maybe he needs a little slap or something. How come the best track coach in the world could be a VOLUNTEER National Coach. Actually, after so many years of Independence, there should not be any volunteer coaches, let alone at National Level.”

Reached for comment by this publication, Rathedi argued that Dipeba, who was the head coach for the men’s relay team, is very committed to Botswana sport and athletics in particular. “Dipeba is now a leading track coach, and for me, the best in the world. There are a couple of things that count well for him, he is a former Olympian track athlete, having competed at the highest level, and; he is a highly qualified track coach. He holds a Sports Science Degree and is extremely passionate on track coaching.”

Rathedi went on to state that ‘there are so many things wrong with Botswana sports.’ “I do not know about fairness but there is a lot of jealousy, discrimination, social class grouping. To me this is so because sports leadership is general not based on merit,” he explained.

He noted that a lot of leading sports administrators are not qualified to be sports leaders. “Simply, they do not deserve to be there, because sports is a science. They are not able to appreciate the concept and the necessary interventions, simply because this area is beyond their understanding. It is like leading an organisation of Medical Doctors when you do not have any medication qualification. It actually would be an insult to the medical profession.”

On what should be done to remedy the situation, Rathedi said two things need to be done, the first of which is to review or come up with a new National Sports and Recreation Strategy. “This would create a frame work or map for Sports and Recreation in the country. It will also give direction on qualifications for certain positions. For the right implementation, the Strategy development must be led by qualified specialist in Sports and Recreation.” On the second solution, Rathedi said “we also need to hold a national sports forum to discuss issues relating to sports.”

Rathedi highlighted that Dipeba is a volunteer national coach, despite having served in this position for years now. He said “This is an outdated arrangement. We have been independent for many years now, and really we can not be having people coaching national teams for free. No not now.”

“In the past yes it would be okay to have such, because the country did not have any resources or anything like that. Just imagine someone volunteering as a Judge or Medical Doctor in their profession. Here is the problem. You get some many people from our fields, coming to volunteer in sports, yet it is not possible for qualified sports people volunteering in fields they do not have qualifications for. This clearly shows that lot of people take sports lightly, hence the problems we have in Botswana. He has been volunteering for as long as i have known him. Many years now,” added Rathedi.

When Rathedi was asked on what advice he can give to upcoming coaches, Rathedi had this to say “To up coming coaches please know your qualities and rights, respect the field of coaching as well as yourselves. Do not just go for the sake of travel allowances. Coaches must be paid for their services. They need to sign contracts with clear policies on their wealth and expectations, including bonuses and awarding systems.”

Rathedi highlighted that there is a big problem for Botswana Sports. He said “The Minister responsible for Sports does everything in good faith and he has a lot of passion, he is a fine young man. But he is not a Sports Scientist. So, all he needs is for him to be surrounded and advised by people with the right sports qualifications. Unfortunately, 99.9% of those advising the Minister are the wrong people because they lack the correct qualifications. This is a problem,” concluded Rathedi.

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