Botswana athletics senior national team coach Justice Dipeba says the lessons learnt from the just ended Tokyo Olympics will be put to good use.
“Coaching at the Olympics is hectic. At the same time, it can be special. This is the top or ultimate level for every sport. As a coach there is so much pressure as the expectation is enormous and high from your country. So it is always special to be given a task like this, that means your country trusts you and believe that you can deliver,” he says.
While he has been at the helm of the senior national team for a while now, Dipeba highlighted that he is only just offering a helping hand, not that this is a lifetime career.
“I do not regard coaching as my career, I am volunteer. I have a job at the university of Botswana, as sports officer. Coaching is my passion, I do it out of the love of sport and also giving back to the community, by helping to change lives and young men women of our country,” he says.
He went on to add that achieving what he has achieved so far with the little time he has is a special feeling as he only ‘has 2-3hours a day to coach these athletes.’
“Luckily I am allowed to use the facilities of the university of Botswana, and let me take this opportunity to thank the university of Botswana for giving me time and facilities to serve our country,” says the coach.
Moreover, Dipeba noted that although coaching is not his career, he will just continue coaching whenever he is available.
“I will continue serving the nation as much as I can with the little time that I have or I will have. Remember I am a family man, and farmer, these all need time. May be in the near future, I will try a different avenue,” he says.
Meanwhile, the coach has lauded the athletes for what he believes ‘were outstanding performances.’
“I know there was a lot of expectations. But considering that we were only entered in four events, 400m women, 400m Men, 800m Men and 4x400m Relay Men, for me it was an outstanding performance, where we reached 3 finals and one of the finals reaching the podium, I think these are great results.”
“This is big for the country and this is just the beginning, I think now we have seen where we can win medals, let us increase the support and make sure we do better next time,” adds Dipeba.
On what he would do differently if given another shot at the Olympics, Dipeba says “it is always going to be a different approach depending on so many different things, the preparations, the number of athletes that you can take to the games regarding the relay team.So what you can do will always depend on the present situation,” he says.
Dipeba notes that in preparing for the Olympics, they had several hiccups on the way.
“Challenges are always there, and the number one being our usual one, the funds, which brings a lot of interruptions in the preparations. We end up reducing the number of athletes and not being able to travel for competitions. This time around, there was also covid-19 which made things worse. We saw a lot of restrictions, to a point where athletes were not allowed to travel and competitions were cancelled,” he reminisces.
To overcome the challenges, he says they had to ‘stay positive and work with whatever they had even though it was not always enough.’ Furthermore, Dipeba said he is glad they managed to put the minds of the athletes at ease during the competition.
“They had to believe. We told them that they have done the work and they are ready to compete for the podium. They believed and they delivered 3 finals, a podium finish and 2 African records in 2 days. That is impressive,” he says.
He says this proves that if they can get more support, they can do even much better. “If we can plan better we can achieve better,” Dipeba says.
“It takes time and passion to be able to coach and get results. It is demanding job, so you better ready to sacrifice a lot. It is not only about coaching a better athlete, it is also about coaching them to be better people,” he concludes.