The International Working Group (IWG) held a workshop for local athletes at the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) warm up area on Friday to enlighten them about welfare issues. The workshop was supposed to have been a mentoring and empowerment programme on things they already knew, but it turned out they were clueless about a lot of things. Presentation by Godfrey Bose from the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture (MYSC) opened a can of worms when discussing his ministry’s role and how they pay incentives and fees to the athletes. Almost all sporting codes had representation of athletes drawn from the national teams.
Bose said allowances are not the same in all sporting codes with football and volleyball being in category (1) one, netball, athletics, karate and boxing in category (2) two while the rest are in category (3)three. The athletes asked him so many questions highlighting the fact they were not even aware that those incentives existed as they have never benefited from those.
Athletes felt they have been cheated for a long time. IWG Secretary General Game Mothibi encouraged the athletes to go back to their different sporting codes to demand answers and also look for necessary documents to support their complaints if they find the need to do so. “This issue also shows that you guys are ignorant about your welfare, you should always want to know what is due to you,” she said. The athletes argued that sometimes they are afraid of questioning certain decisions due to fear of being dropped from the national team and losing out on representing the country, something they all love to do. Dr Tshephang Tshube addressed them about handling sport fame. He urged them to understand that in sport fame does not last for a very long time as it is events and performance based. If they do not excel they fall out of favour, something they should condition themselves to.
“In other countries there are retired athletes’ organisations, which prepare for their lives out of the limelight, but in Botswana we do not have those yet, so it is up to an individual to find positive ways on how to deal with such,” he said. He cited Nijel Amos, saying he will always be recognised as the first Olympic medallist for this country. The same applies to Amantle Montsho who also became the first athlete to bring Botswana a Commonwealth medal. He encouraged them to find the balance between being a son, a celebrity, a daughter, a student and even a citizen of Botswana. Dr Seamogano Mosanako also encouraged them to know how to deal with media people and understand how the media works.