Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Racism rocks local sports

In a strongly worded speech BNSC President, Solly Reikeletseng vowed to rid the local sport of racism and xenophobia and to crack the whip on any individual found to be racially prejudicing others in local sport. Addressing the OGM, Reikeletseng informed the delegates that BNSC has ‘observed a growing tendency of internal strife of the worst proportion in the affiliates with a large mix of Batswana and foreign nationals, both at leadership level and even at lower structures where even athletes and parents of athletes are concerned.’ “We do not tolerate any form of prejudice and abuse within sport and I am saying this with the strictest terms that any such tendencies will be met with stern action. If it means expelling the perpetrators permanently from sport we will do so,” the BNSC President warned the delegates. He said at the moment, one case of such nature was being handled by the BNSC, adding that should it be necessary, an example will be set with the case. “Racism and reverse racism has no place in sport in Botswana. We are all equal and we all have a place in the development of sport,” Reikeletseng informed the delegates.

Meanwhile, speaking in a follow up interview following his strong worded address to the delegates, Reikeletseng said the BNSC is closely observing at least three other codes to monitor any signs of racism. He said so far, a finger of accusation cannot be pointed at any particular race for such, adding that the issue is seen in both the locals (Batswana) and the foreigners. “In this particular case I made an example of in my address at the OGM, the perpetrator is a Motswana,” Reikeletseng explained. While attesting that the issue of racial prejudice has always been present in local sport, the BNSC President said it has not always been addressed head on and this has exasperated the situation. “As the BNSC, we have now decided to tackle this issue head on and anyone who is caught on the wrong side will be either suspended or banned from sport. In the past, this issue was addressed in undertones with the hope that it can be solved but we have come to the conclusion that we need to change our strategy to stop it,” he explained.

He said as the BNSC, they have realized that the issue is affecting progress of codes as well as the general development of athletes and thus a need to take punitive measures to nip it. While admitting that the issue has always been there, Reikeletseng said as the President of the BNSC, both he and the council ‘have a duty to stop any issue of bigotry in sport,’ which he described more as a severe case of ‘personality issues.’ He concluded that while ‘sport politics is tolerated as a sign of growth in local sport and is the nature of sport all over the world, racism in sport cannot be viewed in the same equal measure and cannot be tolerated.

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Sunday Standard May 24 – 30

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of May 24 - 30, 2020.