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Athletes conspicuously missing

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Local athletes were surprisingly missing at the Gaborone International Meet (GIM) athletes press conference held ahead of the track and field competition that took place this past weekend in Gaborone.

The only local and top athlete present was 400m runner Baboloki Thebe at the event meant to give athletes a chance to discuss with the media their preparations ahead of the annual meet. It would prove even more embarrassing and disappointing when other participating nations that had been reported to have already arrived in Botswana did not show up either.

It was also at that time during the press conference, that one of the GIM returning sponsors Mascom, through its representative Tirelo Kooagile mentioned that he was actually seeing Thebe for the first time. He said that the star athlete was actually taller in person as he has only seen him on television.

It would even turn more awkward later that evening during the sponsors night meant to recognize and appreciate all who had contributed to the success of the 2019 meet, none of the local athletes were present but only a few athletes from the likes of Nigeria, Malawi and Lesotho managed to grace the event.

Botswana had over 200 athletes participating at the 2019 edition of GIM. The Meet Director, Glody Dube was quick to take the blame for it all, saying it was actually neglect from their side. Though they had sent out invitation to athletes, they did not arrange with athletes properly in terms of transport and other logistics.

Dube explained that the few foreign athletes that managed to attend the press conference and the sponsor’s night were accommodated at Oasis motel, which happened to be the venue for the two separate events. “Zambia, for instance is housed at the other end of town and I believe they found it difficult to travel this side,” Dube said.

As for the absence of local top stars such as Onkabetse Nkobolo, Isaac Makwala, Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko among others, Dube said that there was no proper arrangement made for them to attend the event either. He added that it might have also proved difficult for them to attend because an athlete requires lots of rest a day before competition. “We will look into the matter going forward so as we do not find ourselves embarrassed or inconveniencing athletes,” Dube noted.

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.

Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.

“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.

Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.

“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year  for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having  already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.

“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.

Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe.  No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.

Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.

However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry  of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”

Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.

However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.

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