At least three Botswana sporting codes are out in the left field after an unusually long silly season touching off fears that they may not be fit to represent the country in international competitions.
Basketball, Netball and Volleyball are just about to end the year without playing league games making it difficult to assemble national teams to compete in international games.
University of Botswana Lecturer, Dr Tshepang Tshube from the Department of Physical Education is worried that the inordinately long lay-off is a major setback for sport development in the country. “It is a major deficit that we can have some sporting code that are without a league” Tshube. He said it also hampers sport development because athletes are not tried and tested on league competitions.
Tshube explained that leagues are used to prepare athletes and expose them to playing games. The league is also used for selection of national team athletes based their performances.
“League helps athletes to have a series of competition. Players understand the league and its demands because they compete every weekend. Competing in major tournaments without have played in the league first is a recipe for disaster” Tshube said.
He however observed that sporting codes can send teams to regional and international competitions because of many reasons. “Some may send team to international competitions because they want to remain affiliated to international bodies. For some codes it is mandatory to participate in international events or else face sanctions or termination of their affiliations” he explained.
Tshube farter told Sunday Standard Sports that some codes send teams to international events without proper preparations because there are incentives. “Officials want to cash in on incentives so they will do everything to send teams to international competitions even though players have not participated in any league.” He said it was wrong to run after incentives at the expense of preparing athletes through league competitions. He suggested that the money spent on sending teams to international tournaments would be put to better use in sponsoring leagues and putting in place proper structures.
He explained that that selecting athletes who have not gone through the drill of league contests was bad on many fronts: “You don’t have assurance that athletes have been training” and the selection criteria tends to be whimsical and very subjective, said Tshube.
He further pointed out that oftentimes, the “players selected are not mentally prepared because they have been on a long layoff. They are often humiliated on national television when they are threshed by opponents and lose dismally. This will impact on their confidence.”
In the league players develop a culture of excellent performance because they are aiming for the national cap. Athletes can also develop negative attitude towards the competitions because they know they have been selected by a disorganized structure and will not put effort towards a podium finish.
Tshube advised the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) to monitor the situation and resolve it before it gets worse. “BNSC and BNOC should demand accountability on the side of affiliates and make sure individual affiliates have leagues” Tshube.
There is need for quantitative accountability for every action by affiliates. “If they fail they must explain and evaluate why they have failed and if they are successful they must note the things that have helped them succeed”.
Botswana Basketball Association is hosting the Zone VI championships despite the fact that the association does not have a running league. Botswana Volleyball Federation women national team finished dismally in the just ended Africa Women championships in Cameroon coming home without a win. All the affiliates that do not have leagues point to lack of sponsorship.