Association calls for more support from Government
“We just wanted to make it to the finals,” – Team Manager
The Botswana National Paralympic Team made up of Edwin Masuge (21) and Gloria Majaga’s (20) journey at the 2020 Paralympic Games has come to an end after a good fight on the race track.
Masuge qualified for men’s T13 400m final with a personal best of 50.13 and came in 7th with a time of 50.54 while Majaga came in 5th with a personal best time of 104.18 in the women’s T13 400m heats. The Paralympic Association believes there is room for growth which has to start with the welfare of the association itself.
Team Manager, who is also Vice President of the Paralympics Association of Botswana, Monty Ratlou, said their biggest challenge is a lack of sufficient resources to properly explore sports.
Moreover, they have over the years only focused on athletics however just like the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), they too have different codes.
“As a Paralympic movement in Botswana, we also have our own ups and downs. But the association should be treated more like the BNOC and not just a singular code association,” he lamented. This is due to the fact that they have different individuals with different disabilities that also have various codes that they can tap into, resources permitting.
They are hopeful however that there will be more support from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC). “We see a tremendous improvement in our engagement with relevant stakeholders, who really stood with us this time. It is our first time to get this kind of support and we are confident that overtime we will be able to overcome pending challenges,” he added.
Ratlou said they did not set any targets for a podium finish and only anticipated to make it to the finals; which was fulfilled by Masuge.
He made note of a number of factors that contributed to the outcome which they are proud of. Ratlou said there is need to take into consideration that Masuge and Majaga are both final school leaver’s who had to juggle examination preparations with preparations for a competition of this magnitude.
“A lot of effort had to be put and in some occasion the pair would miss training to balance academic work and their career in athletics,” he explained.
According to an elated Ratlou, this is their best season yet as the Paralympic Association which had three athletes qualifying for such a prestigious competition contrary to past years where that have only sent one athlete or none at all.
The third athlete is Bose Mokgwathi who unfortunately pulled out due to an unforeseen injury. “Qualifying for the Olympics is a major achievement for the athletes and management as well. The athletes are still young and it shows that we can most certainly benefit in the long run if their talents are nurtured,” he added. Moreover, Ratlou said as management they were able to exchange ideas with other international Paralympic Associations on how to better their teams moving forward.
Permanent Secretary for MYSC Kago Ramokate said they have not had any particular request from the Paralympic Association that suggests a desire to be autonomous; or to be recognised as an independent body from the BNSC similar to the BNOC. He said they have always engaged well with the association and have made a deliberate decision to invest in Paralympics and people living with disability.
“We believe that continued efforts between the association and government through the BNSC will take the future of Paralympics in Botswana forward,” he added.
Ramokate further explained that they are of the view that the association should continue to receive the attention it needs given the opportunities they have had in the past to engage them. In addition, Ramokate emphasised that the ministry will also continue to give Paralympics opportunities as much as possible and as much as they can afford.