The Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Tuelo Serufho, says his recent visits to the Jamaican and Senegal High Performance Training Centres (HPTC’s) has given him a new perspective on HPCs.
Serufho, who made a detour to Jamaica from Trinidad and Tobago to check on local athlete, Isaac Makwala, who is training there ahead of the London 2012 Summer Olympics, says what he saw in both countries’ HPC structures may benefit Botswana if put to use.
“What I realised during my trips is that there is no much difference between Botswana and Jamaica in terms of economic development, we are almost the same,” Serufho opined, saying that as such, Jamaica, as with Senegal, have adapted their HPTCs to suit what they can afford and are reaping results.
“In Botswana, when we think a High Performance Centre, we think of big structures and equipment. What I deduced from my trips to both Jamaica and Senegal is that an HPTC is more than that…it is mainly programme and coaching,” Serufho said. “These two, programme and coaching, are the core of HPTCs. I don’t say we don’t need the big structures and equipment, they are important as well to complement what is achieved by programme and coaching,” he said.
According to Serufho, both the Jamaican and Senegalese High Performance Centres do not have any big structures but are producing world class athletes, something which Botswana should maybe adopt in the interim while awaiting to build its own HPC infrastructures.
“In Jamaica, all they have in the HPCs is a basic track field, there are no major infrastructures, save for the sleeping quarters of athletes. These are mostly used by athletes from outside Kingston while others like Usain Bolt stay outside the centre and come there only for training,” the BNOC CEO explained. “This is the same for the Senegal HPTC where there is only the basic structures and athletes sleep in hostels outside the HPTC,” Serufho added.
He says despite their disparity with the best in the world, the two HPTCs have produced and continue to produce world beaters.
“As Botswana, this means we can start small at relatively small costs then expand as and when resources allow. We can start by designing a comprehensive programme, bringing in highly qualified coaches and personnel as well as using the basic facilities, infrastructure and whatever we have to help train our athletes,” he opined.
Serufho says he will be discussing his findings with stakeholders and sporting codes during their different forums as they seek to improve the country’s sporting fortunes.
Meanwhile, he says Makwala has settled well in Jamaica and seems to be enjoying life there. The local athlete, who is training under the guidance of Usain Bolt’s coach, Glen Mills, is said to be motivated and happy.
“He is training in the same facilities as the likes of Bolt and this is motivation enough. The Jamaicans are happy with his progress and he is said to be well behaved and dedicated,” Serufho said.