Red tape delays funds for Commonwealth preps

BNOC said to be stonewalling release of the funds

Sports Reporter

Intensive preparations for Team Botswana ahead of the impending Commonwealth Games in Australia are halted due to bureaucratic delays in releasing the necessary funds.

Global Sport has established that Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), which is the custodian of both the Commonwealth Games and the Olympics, did receive P3 million in mobilization fees for the preparations from the government.

The balance is an undisclosed but crucial amount that was to be used to fill in the gaps. The athletics team should have left for South Africa on the 15th of this month for intensive trainings.

The entire team – which is tasked with bringing home eight medals from the Games – is currently slogging it out in Botswana’s and making do with their country’s poor equipment despite the promise that those wishing to use better equipment and other resources abroad would be assisted to do so.

The Pretoria High Performance Centre in South Africa was the ideal place for the athletics team that is made up of Botswana’s best, amongst them Isaac Makwala and Amantle Montsho. The team was to try their best relay combinations, last fitness checks and other running techniques, according to Vice President Technical of the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Kenneth Kikwe.

Said the chief executive of BNOC, Tuelo Serufho, in a previous interview with Global Sport: “We had a training camp last year which ended just before Christmas. The team resumed camp this week. In February we will take a different direction. Some will go outside for their preparations, depending on the code. Mind you, the team will go to Gold Coast earlier to acclimatise as the weather is different.”

Ironically, information before this paper suggests that it is BNOC that is stonewalling release the funds to various sport codes, save for boxing which is done at Zone IV championships that were held in Mozambique up to last Saturday.

Serufho could not respond to this publication’s enquiry at the time of going to press as he was said to be out of the country. Athletics coach Mogomotsi Otsetswe was tight-lipped while Kikwe confined himself to acknowledging that the present state of affairs boded ill for the team and the nation.

“We expected the team to be in camp in Pretoria but it is still in Botswana,” Kikwe said. “The reason we wanted the team at the high performance centre was for it to prepare intensely for the grand prix this week (Thursday).

The athletics team is also expected to compete in the relay championships on March 10 as the technical team wanted to avoid another grand prix in South Africa on March 8.

This edition of the Commonwealth Games is expected to pull 6 600 athletes from 70 countries. It will be held at Australia’s second largest and third most populous city of Queensland from 4-15 April. The target of eight medals for Team Botswana is part of BNOC’s strategic plan of 2017 to the 2020 Olympics.