Local Sport structures are blamed for frustrating athletes towards attaining their dreams. These sentiments were shared by Leader of Opposition (LOO), Dumelang Saleshando when responding to the State of the Nation Address (SONA) by President Mokgweetsi Masisi.
“We need to do more to identify talented sportsmen and women at an early stage. Too many athletes are frustrated by lack of support in attaining their dreams,” he observed. The vocal LOO observed that sport is always able to unite even the most divided nations.
He noticed that lack of financial support from local sport structures leads to shattered dreams of children with talent because they are unable to attend competitions.
To buttress his point, he gave as an example of Atlang Chongwe. “I am in this regard thinking of a young Motswana girl who was introduced to tennis through a program that targets public schools. The young Atlang Chongwe was sponsored by the Francistown Tennis Community to participate in African Junior Tennis Circuit matches in Madagascar where she did well. In a short time, she had secured a good ranking for Under 14 in Africa,” he told his fellow legislators.
He further explained the struggles of young Chongwe that “last month, she was invited by the African Confederation of Tennis to play in the ITF/CAT African Junior Championship in Tunisia. She earned this invitation on account of the talent she has displayed in previous tournaments. Unfortunately, the Botswana Under 14 team arrived today in Tunisia without her on account of lack of sponsorship,” he told parliament. Chongwe needed P13 000 to go to the competitions in Tunisia. The BTA could not help because there is no money. BNSC also failed to assist Chongwe. Saleshando further observed that those kids whose parents are financially stable are the only ones who can go for competitions after their parents dig deep into their pockets.
He advised that there is more that needs to be done to support kids financially to avoid further frustrations.
“We are not supposed to only know them when they bring glory. It is wrong to only celebrate athletes when they bring home medals. We must invest in athletes across sporting federations,” he said.
He observed that sport can unite the nation hence more has to be done to invest in sport. Saleshando joined Masisi in congratulating athletes who continue to shine at international events.