As a way of developing sports in the country, the government of Botswana, through the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), started sending high performing athletes to Cuba.
Most athletes sent to Cuba are mainly from codes such as boxing and volleyball.
Athletes are sent there to study sports-related courses while at the same time receiving vigorous sports training.
Volleyball is one sports code that has had many of its athletes go to Cuba and several are still there.
Some of the renowned athletes that studied in Cuba include the likes of Khumiso Ikgopoleng, Peaceful Seleka, Shadrack Kapeko and Odirile Sibanda. All these mentioned athletes did a lot for the country, especially at major international events.
Despite the positive move by the government to train as many athletes as possible, there is a worrying trend in the sporting fraternity that once the athletes return home, they do not benefit the way they are supposed to. Once athletes return they are responsible for sports development of all codes but not the ones they were active in before they left the country for studies.
Also, once they complete their studies, some of them are sent to areas far from Gaborone, something seen as wasting of talent.
Sports codes where some of the athletes were active in are complaining that their talent is going to waste because they do not fully utilize what they have learnt in Cuba.
Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) President, Dan Molaodi, told Sunday Standard that the government is doing a good job in training athletes but a lot still needs to be done.
“When these athletes come back from Cuba they are posted at various places and will be responsible for the development of sports in general but not specific codes they were active in before going to school. As volleyball, we are losing a great deal because they are not responsible for developing volleyball but other codes. We have been trying to raise this issue with the BNSC and we will keep on raising it until we come to a common understanding,” he said.
Molaodi also added that it is unfortunate that BVF does not have adequate resourses and if they had they would absorb some of the volleyball athletes into their structures to take the sport to another level.
Molaodi’s sentiments are shared by the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA).
The spokes person for BoBA, Willough Kemoen, told Sunday Standard that the setup also is disadvantaging them. He gave an example of Ikgopoleng who he said is highly trained and won many medals for the country at international level.
Kemoen said Ikgopoleng has since been posted to Masunga and, as such they are disadvantaged.
“We have just appointed Ikgopoleng a national boxing team coach and it is a message to BNSC that we need him the most here in Gaborone. He is highly trained and it is our ambition to have him as the Technical Director of boxing so that he works hand in hand with our sport development officer,” he said. Kemoen said Ikgopoleng has already proven his coaching credentials by bringing many medals from the Zone IV games with his youthful team.