By Patience Lephogole
Botswana’s former Olympians have welcomed the formation of the country’s National Olympians Association, which they believe is long overdue.
After years of failure to establish the structure, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has indicated that it is hopeful the association will finally come to be.
The continued failure by the country to have the association has robbed former local Olympians an opportunity to benefit from programmes run by the World Olympians Association to help former athletes to successfully transit to life after sports.
According to the BNOC, “as the number of Olympians is growing it is our hope that the organization will be successfully established. The NOC will only support it in its formative states and be allowed to operate independently.”
Former Olympian Glody Dube has praised the initiative, saying that it was about time something was done to recognise and help athletes adjust to life after retirement.
“This will help athletes not to feel lost. Facing retirement from your sporting career can be tough, but knowing what to expect can make the transition easier,” he added.
He further added that this will help Olympians to have their own initiatives and not scrambling for opportunities elsewhere.
Dube said “This is in terms of scholarships, mentorships, job placements and life coaching programmes for Olympians and assisting them transition to a life beyond competitive sport following retirement.”
He said “This will help as Olympians are young and upcoming athlete’s role models, as such it will help in terms of building them as well as offering support and mentoring to them.”
Adding to Dube’s optimism, another former athlete and Olympian California Molefe said he was ‘excited with the move by the BNOC’ to establish the association.
“Worldwide Olympian associations have long been formed; this is a great move by Botswana as it had been behind,” Molefe said.
Molefe said the establishment of the association will bring former and current Olympians together, so that they take part in national duties varying from officiating, coaches as well as the technical aspect.
“It is good that former Olympians will not be forgotten because once upon a time they raised the national flag high as such they should be recognised whilst giving back what they have learned back to the sports community,” he added.
He said “If I am given a chance to contribute, I will do that wholeheartedly although one has to consider giving first priority to young and upcoming individuals.”
Commenting on the matter, BNOC Communications Manager Lame Ramokate indicated that the establishment of the association will greatly benefit local Olympians.
She said as it stands, Botswana is unable to benefit from programs of the World Olympics Association to run legacy projects, Olympian career transition programs and general promotion of Olympic values due to lack of representation.
Ramokate said the process to establish the association has already started and is almost at an implementation stage.
“The process is ongoing and a database of former Olympians has been created to keep records of their whereabouts. Once the process has been completed, a Committee to oversee will be constituted by the members,” she said.
When asked if there are any pledges, Ramokate had this to say “This is membership driven and the IOC has provision to support their programmes.”
On how the Olympians will benefit from the association, the BNOC Communications and Marketing Manager had this to say;
“It helps them remain current, by being appraised with issues around the Olympic Movement and they can play an active role of advocacy and participate in the NOC activities s creating a range of benefits for Olympians such as the Olympic Day Celebrations as well other International Forums relevant to their mandate.”