Botswana Tertiary Student Sports Association (BOTESSA) has assembled a team of seven athletes who will represent the country at the 2019 Fédération Internationale du Sport Universitaire (FISU) games in Napoli, Italy from the 3rd to the 13th of July.
The team comprise of athletics kingpins Thabiso Sekgopi, Clifton Meshack, Gorata Gabankitse, Omondi Lesedi ,Loungo Matlhaku, Xholani Talane and Monaiwa Thapelo who all qualified for the games during Botessa National Athletics Championships and Gaborone International Meet (GIM) events which were staged earlier this year.
To be in a good shape for the world university games the athletes have been busy competing in local track events amongst others, the GIM and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) national championships and relays.
Meshack and Matlhaku secured their spots at the competition during the GIM where they registered impressive times of 46.83s and 11.59s in 400m and 100m respectively.
Sekgopi, Lesedi, Meshack, Talane qualified as part of the 4x400mrelay team while Gabankitse and Monaiwa have qualified in 800mand long jump respectively. Onkabetse Nkobolo did qualify as part of the relay team but since he is over 25 years, he couldn’t be part of the crew since FISU games are for athletes aged 18 to 25 years.
Initially Botessa had wanted to send 17 athletes but due to financial constraints they were forced to drop table tennis players from the trip.
“We are still having issues of sponsorship for those who are to attend the games. To date we still have challenges as people promise to sponsor and they turn us down at the eleventh hour. So our hope is that we will secure the funds as soon as possible. We have planned to have table tennis but we decided to cancel their participation as some sponsors pulled out so if all goes well the remaining seven athletes will leave on the 30th of June,” said Botessa mouthpiece Duncan Segabo.
According to Segabo, they require close to P600, 000 for logistics arrangements of the 17-member team and things are made worse by the fact that they are yet to receive their annual grant from Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC).
“We needed P646, 704 for air tickets, accommodation, registration and participation fees for 17 players but now we are down to 11 athletes and officials (7 athletes and 4 officials). We are still getting some contributions and we believe we will be able to send the remaining team. If we fail to secure more funds we will rather trim the officials not the team,” he said.
When asked why they can’t access money from their grant at the BNSC to finance the trip, Segabo said; “We haven’t got any grant as of now from the BNSC because they are yet to allocate the funds to different federations. Besides that our grant is around P400, 000 so it is still not even enough to run our office – it is too little. The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports& Culture Development has promised to fund us for this trip but it seems like they are currently also experiencing some challenges but we are still engaging them on the matter as time is not on our side,” he added.