‘Over P3.5 million used on Relief Programme’- Rakgare
‘We did not benefit anything’- BAA
Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Vice President, Oabona Theetso, has expressed doubt regarding utterances made by Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Tumiso Rakgare that 889 athletes were assisted under the Covid19 Relief Programme.
Rakgare told Parliament during the week that government spent a total amount of P3, 567, 430.00 on the Covid19 Relief Programme ; an amount said to have assisted about 889 athletes over a period of three months.
In short, Theetso told Patriot Sport that their athletes were not beneficiaries of the relief fund. “I cannot even say the funds were only limited to elite players because if that was the case athletes like Nijel Amos, Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho could have benefited,” he said.
Theetso said some athletes even approached the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) to inquire from Chief Executive, Tuelo Serufho but to no avail. “The closest thing to assistance was some food hampers donated by the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) but these were only awarded to the Tokyo bound camp athletes and not necessarily every athlete,” he lamented.
Serufho explained that there was a criterion in place to determine eligibility to the relief fund and part of it stated that athletes with other sources of funds from government were not eligible. “Some of them are on the scholarship for Tokyo which was ongoing even at the advent of the pandemic so they could not be put on the fund,” he added. Furthermore, Serufho said unfortunately the resources that were set aside to assist these athletes were not sufficient for all the athletes and only a few who could prove that they were earning a living from sport could be assisted.
Prompted by Nata/Gweta MP, Polson Majaga on allowances for top professional sporting codes during COVID times and issues of funding through sports fund programmes, Rakgare said sport is currently sorely reliant on government. “Athletes are suffering, they are in need but we must note that government has already made efforts. The truth is our sports are solely relying on government; government bears all sport programmes and they are the reason why our sport is performing in this manner,” he said. According to Rakgare, over the past three years government has spent P33.3 million to prepare the Tokyo team ahead of the Olympics. These efforts include a reservation of P7.5 million to assist the team upon their departure to get proper training in a bid to yield good results at the Olympic games.
On the subject of sourcing funding and team sustenance, Rakgare said the BNSC is continuously engaging private companies for sponsorship. “We can list different companies that you know such as Botswana Telecommunications Corporation (BTC). They have been sponsoring our leagues. Companies like Mascom also sponsor our leagues, players and different tournaments that we have. Orange, Debswana and other companies also assist with sponsorship,” said Rakgare.