He is one of the former athletes that opened the national stadium in 1987, but little is known about Ipolokeng Ramatshaba the current spokesperson for Botswana Athletics Association (BAA). Fifty five year old Ramatshaba says even though he was born in Serowe, he went to Mmadinare to start primary school. It was the year 1973 when he was in Tlapalekoma Primary School when the school was opened that he realised his talent in football and athletics. He says that although many people may not be aware, he played football before he actually focussed on athletics. “I went to Palapye Seconday School and it was there that i played for Morupule Wonders as a striker because of the speed that I had. I didn’t do well academically so I then missed the chance to go to Lotsane Senior School and that is when I came to Gaborone,” Ramatshaba commented.
He added that when coming to Gaborone he thought his career in football will continue to grow since he thought football was the one that is going to be his career. He says that he played for Nico United and also had a short stint at Gaborone United before he decided to join the Botswana Defence Force in 1980. “Whe I joined BDF, I was hoping that I will be recruited into BDF X1, but it didn’t happen, and it was in the year 1982 that i got a stint in athletics during the inter units-competitions and after that in 1983 I was recruited into the national team and got my first national team cap the same year.”
He states that the first country to participate in as an athlete was Zimbabwe and after that he never looked back and focused solely in athletics in which he represented Botswana in many different countries around the globe like Germany and Tanzania among others. He says that even though what they did was good back then, they didn’t have the chance to go to the commonwealth and Olympic Games like the current athletes. “I was the second fastest sprinter in 100m and 200m after the late Sunday Mawene. I have won the Barclays national champion in both 100m and 200m and I got P20 each for them, and that time we didn’t complain since it was a lot of money and also about the pride of the nation.”
He uttered that those times the 20 pula that they got was able to do a lot of things for them, hinting that he was also able to buy his livestock with the money; which in current days can only buy you lunch without a drink. He says that it was also fascinating for them and even others when a letter will be sent to their bosses asking for them to be excused to go and represent the country, and it was something that was envious.
Ramatshaba said with enthusiasm that it is quite satisfying for them to see athletics being one of the most successful sports in the country, and on that hinting the inclusion of most of the former athletes in the administration of the sport as something that is contributing immensely to its development because they understand better. “Athletics administration is made up of about 70 per cent of former athletes, and that is the reason why it is successful because of the insight that they give and their understanding of the sport itself. Even our coaches we wanted people who have been athletes before,” he added.
Ramatshaba states that he retired from running just like many because of age, but when he was still active they hardly lost, and right now they are the people who lead the current athletics that we see now which has produced a lot of gems that Botswana prides itself with in the likes of Nijel Amos,Amantle Montsho, and Isaac Makwala among others. “I have been in the administration since 1996 and I have been to different countries to attend the IAAF courses. As Botswana athletics Association we follow the IAAF constitution, and they have helped us in pushing a lot of agendas in athletics that has led to the success of this code.”
Ramatshaba said he is very happy and grateful for his time as an athlete, and once again grateful that he has been in the administration to give back to the sport that is very close to his heart. He said nowadays, like other sporting codes, athletics is all about professionalism and a means of sustenance, other than the 10 pulas and 20 pulas that they always got in their time, but nonetheless they sustained themselves too with that.
He says that it is also in them to push hard so that Botswana continues to raise more stars in athletics, mentioning that even though they use natural training unlike other countries with high-performance centres, it does show that natural training really works well for them and their athletes thus the good results.
He beamed that apart from spending time at the offices he is a family man with a wife and 4 children, consisting 3 girls and a boy. He says his lastborn son seem to be following his steps since he is very athletic and currently plays football, while his grandchildren also shows that talent runs in the family at a very tender age and that they are runners.