Saturday, February 27, 2021

Row blights swimming preps for African Youth Championship

The fight between the Botswana Swimming Sports Association (BSSA) and some of its affiliates over the national team selections is now reaching boiling point.

Affiliates are now seeking for immediate intervention from the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), saying the swimming body now threatens to evoke their affiliation against the body’s selection criteria.

This comes after a conflict over the selection of the young swimmers who will be participating in the African Youth Championship in Zambia in the next two weeks.

Some affiliates complain of favouritism in the selection of the junior national team, gender imbalance and autocracy by those at helm of the association.

Former Chairperson of the Selection Committee, Timothy Maje, said he was not part of the selection team.

Maje said he was surprised to learn a few days before preparations for Zambia that the Selection Committee had been disbanded. He accused the BSSA of not constituting a gender balanced team.
He said boys are being made to compete in the same time frame with girls. Maje added that when doing selections, it is not fair to categorize girls and boys in the same time frame as males would obviously be the better gender.

“There is gender imbalance…You cannot compare a boy and a girl even though they have scored the same time,” said Maje.

He said the other issue is that BSSA selection team has chosen swimmers who are too young to swim, some merely 13 years old.

One source said when they complain to the BSSA, they are targeted because the swimming body want to be surrounded by ‘yes men’ only.

The source said BSSA implements the divide and rule tactic on its affiliates, that it wants everything done behind closed doors, and was intolerant of those who lodged complaints.

“When we complain, we are victimised. My club might lose the BSSA affiliation because of talking to the media. All is not well in BSSA,” said the source.

Those who were elected to select the junior nation team swimmers have been accused of not being transparent and only choosing their friends’ children.

This has seen the BSSA Secretary Bongi Ruele pulling out her daughter Naomi Ruele from the team in protest.

The young girl is one of the most prolific and promising swimmers in this country.

“She will participate in the other competitions. People are defensive and are not willing to correct things. I cannot just sit and watch things not being done in correct order and true sportsmanship,” said Ruele.

By the time of going to press, BSSA President Sally Leppan had not yet responded to an inquiry on the matter.

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