Friday, December 3, 2021

School of Excellence threatened as uncertainty shrouds BISA athletics

Botswana athletics’ conveyor belt is on the brink of being cut as uncertainty engulfs the Botswana Integrated Sports Associations (BISA) athletics calendar yet again. In what will be devastating development for Botswana athletics, BISA may be forced to forfeit athletics competitions from their annual events for a second consecutive year. Should this happen, it is also likely to affect the School of Excellence programme as BISA will not be able to select deserving athletes to be enrolled.

Speaking in an interview, BISA President Joshua Gaotlhobogwe said his association is facing desperate times as it is likely to fail to host one of its key activities. “As the custodians of secondary school sports, we have been informed that there are no funds to facilitate athletics competitions. We have been reliably informed that there is no money for teachers’ overtime, imprest, travel expenses or even food for student athletes,” Gaotlhobogwe explained. He said without such provisions or resources, which include food for student athletes or transport, they have no option but to temporarily halt athletics competitions.

“What is worrying for us as BISA is that last season, we could not host our national finals and ultimately we could not compete at the Confederation of School Sport Associations of Southern Africa (COSSASA) games because it is at these nationals that we pick athletes who compete at COSSASA,” the BISA President explained. Having failed to host the nationals this past year, Gaotlhobogwe said they could also not pick athletes who will be enrolled at the schools of excellence. He said as such, another failure will lead to a situation where the Schools of Excellence will be left with no recognised athletes as the last of those enrolled under the programme completed their schooling this past year. “This will be bad for us as a country as far as athletes’ development is concerned. The likes of Baboloki Thebe and Karabo Sibanda have completed their form five at Goodhope Senior where they were enrolled for the school of excellence. Now that they are gone, we should be filling the places that they left there but now there is going to be a gap as we did not enroll any athletes last year and this may happen yet again this year. It is a gap that will be felt in the next few years because it takes a lot to develop athletes and we cannot afford to have two years of no activity,” the BISA President explained.

Gaotlhobogwe was also adamant that if Botswana fails to send young athletes to compete at COSSASA games yet again, it will deny them a platform to make it into the international arena. “If you remember well, it was at the last COSSASA games we hosted and participated on in 2014 where the likes of Thebe, Sibanda and Galefele Moroko burst into the national scene. From there, they went on to make the country proud at the Africa Youth Game and the Nanjing Youth Olympics just to name a few. Failure to compete will therefore deny our athletes this opportunity,” Gaotlhobogwe said. The BISA President said at the moment, they are trying all avenues to ensure the BISA athletics competitions take place but time is quickly running out.

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