Sunday, February 5, 2023

Olympic Solidarity grant awaits The Mares

As of now, Botswana senior women’s national football team, ‘The Mares,’is the country’s biggest hope to qualify a sport team to the Olympics.

Financial constraints however may stand between them and this dream. So far, Botswana National Olympics Committee (BNOC) says it has only US$100 000 towards the team’s preparations.

BNOC Business Development and Strategy Manager Baboni Kupe says the money is a grant from the funding arm of the International Olympics Committee (IOC), being Olympic Solidarity (OS). It was given as ‘the Mares were pre-identified as a potential sport for qualification.’

While the monies which are in excess of 1 000 000 Botswana pula, she knows it will be not enough. The grant is expected to be used over two years of 2023 and 2024. It will be used to cover accommodation, travel, allowances during the preparations and qualifications phase.

“It must be noted that this grant is limited in terms of amount to fully prepare the team. To date, the BNOC is yet to receive both funding towards the Paris 2024 Games to fully fund their preparations, as well as the Mares,” the Business Development and Strategy Manager says.

“Additionally, it must be underscored that this grant is not adequate to cover all the activities in the plan but allocations are made towards certain activities. For this reason, no activities have been funded as yet mainly because the allocation for the year 2022 was to fund qualification events which unfortunately were postponed to 2023,” she adds.

Kupe says the BNOC is already in possession of the Botswana Football Association (BFA) entire plan for the Paris 2024 games. The association provided this while applying for the grant. This plan will however need to be updated, according to Kupe.

She says the BNOC is therefore expecting a new activity plan and budget for the year 2023 to which activities will be funded through the grant to be submitted by the BFA.

“This grant can only be used for activities related to the team’s preparations for the Olympic Games.  All Olympic Solidarity funding is administered through IOC affiliates for accounting purposes, in this case the BNOC. Therefore, BFA submits a request each time they need funding support towards activities on the agreed plan,” she explains.

Meanwhile, Kupe says the BNOC is awaiting funding from the Government. She says the Paris 2024 budget estimates and plan were submitted to the Government in 2021. However, this plan will be revised following the Expression of Interest (EOI) which was sent to National Federations (NFs). On the bright side, Kupe highlighted that the Paris 2024 Olympics preparations are underway despite the limited budget.

“At the beginning of the year the BNOC identified Paris 2024 prospects and these were awarded some grants as follows: Twelve (12) individual Olympic Scholarships, seven (7) athletes benefiting from the Continental Grant and One (1) Team Support Grant (Women’s Football Team). All these are funded to prepare and qualify for the Olympic Games. The Weightlifting team has been supported the World Championships scheduled for the 05th -16th December 2024, which is an Olympic Qualification,” she said.

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