Lack of facilities cripple swimming growth

  • Only one swimmer qualifies for Commonwealth Games

Tlotlo Kebinakgabo

Shortage of facilities disturbs the growth of the sports in Botswana, secretary of Botswana Swimming Sport Association (BSSA), Sibongile Ruele, has said.

The sport made its maiden appearance for Botswana at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games courtesy of Naomi Ruele but BBSA secretary general believes the sport can do better if it were not for shortage of facilities. “We have talent in Botswana but swimming is an expensive sport. There is no how we can develop the talent further if we don’t have facilities for it as an association, it’s a pity that we don’t even own a swimming pool,” she said. “Swimmers that you see excelling are those who can afford to pay and to join clubs with swimming pools.”

She said that grants secured from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) cannot be used to build facilities as such money is mostly used to send swimmers to international competitions. Ruele, however, highlighted that her association is working to secure sponsors to build their own facilities, ”but then if we emerge successful we are going to be faced with another stumbling block in securing land that can be used. We are however, in talks with Federation Internationale de Natation (FINA) to offer us any form of help and we are hopeful that we will soon convince them as they are interested in developing swimming in Africa,” she said.

Meanwhile, Naomi is the only swimmer who has qualified for the Commonwealth Games slated for Gold Coast, Australia from the 4th-15th April; the swimming qualification was closed on the 20th January. “She is currently studying in United States of America (USA) and her preparations are taken care off by her coach who we have constant contact with to review her training and performance. They also give regular and competitions results to BNOC,” the secretary general noted. The 20-year old is studying in the USA as a beneficiary of the BNOC’s Olympic Solidarity Scholarship.