Saturday, October 16, 2021

Oh, BAA! How can you let down our hopes like that

Local athletes have started feeling the brunt of the on-going administrative vacuum at the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA). 

This past Friday, some athletes were left devastated after they were suddenly dropped from the team that is in Kampala, Uganda, for the 2017 World Cross Country competitions today (Sunday) in Kampala, Uganda.

In an unexpected turn of events, at least six of the 12 athletes who were registered to compete at the Kampala competition were dropped, as the BAA could not finance their trip to the competition.

The move means the dropped athletes will miss out on an opportunity to make it to the World Championships, as the top 10 finalists at the World Cross Country Championships guarantee qualification.

BAA treasurer Brian Mosweu confirmed the incident. “At first, the intention was to send three teams to the competitions, these being the senior men, senior women and junior men’s teams. Each team was expected to have at least four athletes,” Mosweu explained.

“It must be noted that the World Cross Country is a ranking competition, with countries ranked according to how their teams in each category finish the race. However, due to lack of funds, we could not finance all the teams. We then decided to drop members of the senior women and junior men’s team, sending an individual athlete in each category instead,” said Mosweu.

According to Mosweu, this means Botswana will only have an opportunity to be ranked in the senior men’s category which comprised a complete team of four athletes.

Quizzed on what could have caused the BAA’s failure to source finance for the trip, Mosweu said the current upheavals at the association were to blame.

“The funds we got from the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) could not cover all the athletes as we had wished. Under normal circumstances, we could have sourced funds from other partners such as the Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) but due to our internal administrative problems, we failed to do that,” he said.

The failure of the BAA to send a full team has now raised fears whether the current administrative mess-up will not extend to preparations for the World Relays and World Championships qualifications.

“It is disconcerting that the current people left in administration failed to finalise preparations for a team which was going to the World Cross Country Championships. We know that some of the athletes in that team are sponsored by Diacore and it is worrying that they failed to approach the company to help them in the Uganda trip. This has devastated the athletes who were dropped,” a source informed Sunday Standard.

The move is also said to be likely to hit the BAA in the pocket as they will have to reimburse the International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) for the flight tickets and accommodation of athletes.

“When arrangements are made, the IAAF makes arrangements and pays for registered athletes’ flight and accommodations on negotiated prices. 

“The federations then reimburse the IAAF. The failure then even though the BAA did not send athletes, they will still have to pay the IAAF for tickets and accommodations which were booked on their behalf,” said the source.

According to the source, the preparations for the team’s departure for the World Cross Country was also shambolic, with athletes going without team colours or even allowances. 

 This calls for the powers that be to cast an eye at athletics to ensure that athletes’ preparations for the World Relays and World Championships are done properly, the source concluded.

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