Botswana’s finest athletes will be television spectators when their rivals compete at the IAAF World indoor championships billed for Birmingham from 1st to 4th March this year.
According to Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ipolokeng Ramatshaba, this comes as the financially hamstrung association is struggling to get monies to send a team to represent the country at the competition.
With the BAA expected to also send athletes to the upcoming Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games from the 4th to the 15th of April this year, the BAA PRO said they had to prioritise where to spend the meagre finances they have at their disposal.
‘’We had no choice as there were no funds to send a team to the World indoor championships. It is not good for the association to miss such big events but we had to prioritise for the Commonwealth Games. Our team is currently on camp and we hope sponsors will come on board to assist us in future as we cannot win the race alone,” said Ramatshaba.
While a number of local athletes are said to have been eyeing the competition to test their preparedness for the Commonwealth Games, the failure by the BAA to source monies for their participation puts paid such ambitions.
Despite the country having world beaters at its disposal, the BAA PRO said the association is still struggling to find sponsors, hence the difficulty in raising the required monies for local athletes to compete internationally.
‘’BAA is faced with challenges due to lack of support from local companies. We have produced quality athletes that have proved their mettle against the best but still struggle to take them to international events due to lack of funds. It has always been our appeal that we get assistance as we cannot be sustained by government funding through the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC),” the BAA PRO explained.
Ramatshaba expressed concerns that if the country continuously fails to send athletes to major events, it will have repercussions for athletes, the association and the country in general.
By missing on competing at the Indoor Championships, local athletes will miss out on an opportunity to win a USD20 000 prize cheques reserved for winners of each category by the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF).
As for the BAA, Ramatshaba confessed that missing international events such as the World indoor championships means the association may have their grants from the athletics mother body reduced or not increased in future.
Another likely effect of missing out, according to the BAA PRO, may be the reduction in the quota of athletes representing the country in future competitions.
On other issues still related to athletics, the BAA will hold its Annual General Meeting (AGM) at the end of March 2018.
Ramatshaba said unlike in the past year where the BAA postponed its AGM several times, this time around, everything is in order and the meeting will be held as scheduled.