Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Government, corporates steal the BAA limelight

While local athletes are basking in the limelight their custodians at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) have been shunted to oblivion ÔÇô it has emerged.

The local athletics mother body has been reduced to a sideshow as government and corporate scramble to crowd them out of the Commonwealth victory limelight.

While the powers that be hog all the limelight, posing for pictures and conducting media interviews, the BAA is watching from the sidelines, uninvited to their own athletes’ victory celebrations.

It all started when the BAA was not invited to the Team Botswana welcome ceremony at the Sir Seretse Khama International Airport on Wednesday morning.

As if that was not enough, BAA was only given three invitations to Team Botswana’s welcome dinner.  Ever since then, the BAA has been conspicuously absent from festivities involving its own athletes. The association has been overlooked and not invited as different corporate, among them, Debswana, FNB Botswana and Choppies, awarded the excelling athletes tokens of appreciation.

Speaking in an interview, BAA President Thari Mooketsi confirmed that his association has been sidelined in the euphoria surrounding the celebration of its own athletes.

“As BAA, we are surprised at how things have turned out,” Mooketsi said. “We have been sidelined in celebrations despite it being our athletes who are being celebrated,” Mooketsi said resignedly.

“To be honest with you, during all this time, the BAA executive, just like any other Motswana, hear about everything surrounding the athletes through the media,” he said.

Mooketsi said as the BAA, they have no idea why they are not invited to be part of the celebration of their own athletes.

“These are our own athletes. We work hard to ensure we have athletes for our national teams and we deserve some recognition. When all this euphoria dies, these athletes will be dumped on us to prepare them for the national team. Yet, when they do well, we are sidelined,” the BAA President added.

“What is even more surprising is that in all this euphoria, even the government and the corporate that are awarding the athletes some tokens of appreciation, have not even bothered to ask about the whereabouts of the athletes’ custodians,” he said.

The BAA President said as celebrations are ongoing, his association executive have decided not to voice their own concerns for now, as they do not want to be labelled ‘party poopers.’

“We have had conversations amongst ourselves as the BAA and none of us is aware of what is happening,” he said.

“We have resolved that as of now, we keep silent and wait for all this euphoria to die. Once everything has normalised, we will then sit down with the concerned parties to voice our own concerns,” Mooketsi concluded.

Attempts to get a comment from the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) proved futile, with the BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho going unanswered.


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