Sports administrators say the impact of the gridlock between teachers and their employer over extracurricular activities as well as the ongoing public sector strike on sports development will be felt in the near future.
The standoff, which has been ongoing since the beginning of the year, has led to a halt in almost all sporting activities and now threatens even to halt the country’s sports development programmes.
While the minimal effects were felt during the just ended Africa Youth Championships, which Botswana hosted, when local athletes performed dismally, sporting codes believe that in the long run, the effects will be felt in the performance of the country on the international arena.
Speaking in an interview, the Publicity Secretary for Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), who have already felt the brunt of the ongoing impasse said the situation does not augur well for sport in the country.
“As I have stated in the local media when commenting on our performance during the Africa Youth Championships, the impasse has contributed to our poor showing during the championships,” Dube said. Dube says due to the impasse, athletes did not get enough training as teachers have ‘shunned sporting activities since the beginning of the year,’ and they, as the association, could also not take them for training camps in the middle of the academic season’ as that would have been unfair to the student athletes. “Teachers are very crucial to the development of athletes at grassroots level and are very instrumental when we select national teams and the current standoff leaves us in a very difficult situation,” he added.
While expressing hope that the current situation will be resolved very soon, the BAA spokesperson added that the association will be keenly looking at the situation and come up with plans to cushion the impact should the current status quo continue.
For his part, the Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA) Publicity and Information Secretary, Willoughby Kemoen, said that “there is likely to be a dip in the country’s performance on the international arena when the current national team athletes retire and the current student athletes graduate into national team players as they would have not have gone through proper development”.
“We are likely to feel it during the annual Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) games when we have to pick these athletes for the games. Another area where we are likely to feel this impact the most is on the schools’ sports centres’ of excellence as we are relying on teachers for that as well,” Kemoen said.
The BOBA spokesperson added that with his association mostly relying on school sports as its development plan cornerstone, the association will be hard hit by the ongoing impasse as teachers are the ones who have been doing most of the sport development at the grassroots.
Commenting on the issue, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) Secretary General, Kelapile Kelatlhilwe, says the current impasse has caused a delay in their calendar of events, more especially when it comes to school tournaments.
“We cannot at the moment play the Morongwa Chess Championships, which is not good as we are about to choose a team to participate in the Africa youth championships, which will be hosted by Zambia in August this year,” Kelatlhilwe said in an interview.
The BCF Secretary General says as chess clubs get most of their junior players from clubs, the current situation will hit hard on BCF’s development plans. He added that at the moment the BCF will also be monitoring the current events as they unfold so as to mitigate the long term effect should the situation remain unsolved.