MY WORD ON SUNDAY: Govt falls for Amos’ blackmail

SHARE   |   Monday, 07 September 2015   |   By Mpho Dibeela

I was never comfortable with the welcome party that was recently hosted for Nijel Amos and Isaac Makwala that came on the back of a successful European tour where they posted good times and won some of the IAAF Diamond league events. I didn’t see it necessary more-so that even a much bigger world event was on the horizon. I never raised my small hand against it – which would not have mattered anyway. Government saw the need and proceeded. And so without Makwala, Amos was given a huge and deserving heroes’ welcome. And he fully seized the moment. Like a man who appears to have been bottled up, he blasted the Government in particular about the limited support it was giving to athletes. With the privilege of sitting next to the President and rejoicing at being celebrated, he found his voice. Who would not; after all those in attendance were there to worship him. Without stating names of athletes that Government should be helping out he won a major coup when the ministry promised to immediately address his concerns. But really the question that has remained with me is – who is Amos fooling? Which game is he trying to play? At his own Government-sponsored party he turns around and smashes it – what ungraciousness! To me it amounted to turning around and pointing a gun at your good hosts after you have been well feted – demanding more! Amos is a product of government support. And so is Amantle Montsho and many others who have benefited from Government’s Elite Athlete Development Fund. Some were even sponsored to go abroad and study in sports universities. Little as it might have been, but Government has stood by and supported its elite sports people. A difference ought to be made here as well. Once an athlete graduates from amateur to professional - the league that Amos, Makwala and Montsho belongs to - they need to start taking better care of themselves and allow Government to develop other upcoming talent. Amos blasts Government without demonstrating what he is personally doing with his high earnings to support local sport. He earns big in some of the events he competes in. To me, he sounds too selfish. He chooses to lead the selfish bandwagon of his crew. Government should not allow itself to be abused. Athletes that are professionals should not try to have the best of everything. They should care enough about the country to allow it to develop their successors. They should also give a hand in this quest. What Amos and his crew are possibly saying is that they are facing serious pressure from countries that want to recruit them. We know countries buy talent if it cannot be home grown. And it is understandable that elite athletes are constantly under pressure to refuse big brown envelopes. Some have taken advantage of this. It is a personal choice. I don’t see Botswana standing on anyone’s way. It will of course be a huge loss to have some of these top performers dumping this country. This is where the priceless question of patriotism comes in. You need to love this country more to ask not what it will do for you; but what you will do for it! It is as simple as that. And regrettably things like these happen when one has only one or two people to rely on. There is blackmail and unnecessary trickery to contend with. Pressure that government and Botswana National Sports Commission faces is developing as many top runners as possible. It has already shown that we are specialists in 400m and 800m events. We need to quickly set up sports academies for these and double the talent we are producing for these races. Countries like Maldives have recognised that we have what it takes to be the capital of these events and hence they are choosing to bring their runners here. This is an opportunity we should not let go.           

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