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President Dr Ian Khama has cautioned Team Botswana against doping tendencies ahead of the upcoming 2016 Rio Olympic Games.

Amidst international uproar and controversy over doping in the international sporting arena, Khama urged Olympics bound athletes to resist the temptation to use performance enhancing drugs, as this will tarnish the good name of the country. The President was addressing the Team Botswana sending off ceremony at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC) on Monday. 

“You are going to Rio at a time when globally the world is riddled by reports of doping. Athletes who are sometimes assisted by coaches and other support personnel to enhance performance perpetrate this doping. That is cheating and we as Batswana abhor this and it cannot be tolerated. I appeal to all of you to play clean sport and preserve the good name of our country.” In addition, Khama advised athletes that government will not tolerate enhanced performance by local sports men and women. The President made it clear that athletes and officials who will intricate themselves in doping will be suspended accordingly. He said that athletes would not be suspended in a collective form.

“Our position as Government and indeed, Botswana sport is very clear and again, I wish to reiterate, we will not tolerate doping. We agree to the suspension of only those athletes, officials and anyone in authority who have been involved in doping not to ban all the country’s athletes, in the form of collective punishment.” Moreover Khama said cheating in sports is unfair, unjust, unethical and undemocratic as it violates the very principle of participation by world sportsmen and women.

“As you head to Rio, remember that the Olympic movement is premised on the values of excellence, friendship and respect. I will like to add that our very own values of Botho, which defines us as a people and sets us apart from other nations, is also key for you as our Ambassadors in this regard. I therefore call upon each one of you to live up to these values, give your best on the field of play, compete fairly and make friends while you are there.”

Khama also expressed his utmost confidence in local athletes and implored them to strive and compete to the best of their abilities as the hopes of 2million people lie with them. “The national flag affirms the country’s representation at Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The flag carries with it dreams and aspirations of Batswana, and we hope you will hoist it high in Brazil. We all have confidence in your ability to compete and be the very best you can be, we will support you all the way.”

“We will be watching you on television and when you step into the field, know that your parents, relatives and all Batswana are behind you.” Meanwhile Team Botswana is represented by strong athletes such as Isaac Makwala, Nijel Amos, Lydia Jele, Christine Botlogetswe, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda, Boitumelo Masilo, Onkabetse Nkobolo, Naomi Ruele, Kevin Bogopa and David van der Colff.

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Gaborone United Football Club has finally handed Township Rollers the release letter of its (Rollers) Head coach, Rodolfo Zapata, Sun Sports can confirm.

Since Zapata’s appointment as Rollers head coach last month, he is yet to sit on the bench. GU has been holding tight to Zapata’s work permits that he dumped early this year for a job in Kenya. He then resurfaced last month as Rollers coach but things have been stagnant with Zapata not able to coach as he had an active work permit that needed to be cancelled.

This week, both GU Chairman Boitumelo Nsunge and Zapata confirmed that there has been an exchange of the letter. “Yes we have given him the release letter and agreed to cancel his work permit with GU,” Nsunge said.

The GU chairman however noted that they are still to discuss the alleged debt saying they have asked Zapata to furnish them with prove that indeed they owe him money over P300 000. The news will see Rollers management breath a sigh of relief as they have been trying for several weeks now, to work on the GU Zapata saga.

This publication has been reliably informed that the president of Rollers, Jagdish Shah was running out of ideas and was bound to make a decision regarding the matter some time last week. Actually speculations have been rife that Zapata would soon be replaced before he even starts official work at Rollers.

However as it stands now, anytime is teatime. Rollers is eagerly waiting on the Department of Immigration to process Zapata’s work permit with Rollers. It is not clear if the work permit will be available latest today, which will see Zapata on the bench tonight when they play Notwane Football Club, or the Argentine will have to wait for the year 2019 to start his duties.

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Olopeng’s last answer as sports minister

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Before vacating his office at the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development, Minister Thapelo Olopeng was confronted with one last controversial question from MP for Francistown Buti Billy last week.

The MP asked about an update on the commercialisation of sport. The issue has been a hot potato since the Botswana National Sports Commission Act was amended in order to professionalise local sports. However, the process has proven to be an uphill battle. The following is an excerpt from the Parliament Hansard in which the former sports minister responded to the question.
Buti Billy (Francistown East): Asked the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development to update this Honourable House on how he is commercialising sport and if there is any strategy in place to carry out that mandate.

Thapelo Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. The transition from Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) to the Commission in 2014 was the first step towards professionalisation of sport in terms of setting up structures. Sport is at different levels of commercialisation in the different sport codes depending on the level of professionalism. We have a number of teams or codes which are already at semi-professional.

In football, several clubs have their players contracted and remunerated as per signed contracts. Sport also sells broadcast rights to generate revenue. Merchandising is another way that sport has commercialised. There has been establishment of local companies that manufacture sport apparel, and these have grown in popularity over the years. We have also witnessed sport such as Boxing, Athletics, and Golf, to name but a few. We witnessed them professionalise their operations and more are expected to follow. In some of the sport codes, individual sportsmen and women play professional sport internationally.

Mr Speaker, the Botswana National Sport Commission Strategy 2028, which commenced in January 2013, is an overarching strategy towards professionalising of sport, and thus commercialisation. The strategy seeks to promote sport excellence and enhance the contribution of sport to the economy. Billy: Supplementary. Ke a leboga Tona. Fa re lebeletse sports in general; all sports codes, a Minister o itumelela gore he had created employment jaaka a bua gore other sports codes di setse di simolotse go dirwa commercial? (Looking at all sport codes in general, is the Minister of sports happy he has created employment as he says with other sport codes becoming commercial)?

Olopeng: Thank you very much Mr Speaker. Thank you very much Honourable Member. Mr Speaker, my answer to that is yes, because just as at Premier League in soccer, we have 16 teams and every player within these 16 teams is on a payroll; they are paid by those individual clubs, that is creation of employment. We have our international athletes, those who participate outside the country at different events; they are paid.

We have other players, our athletes in football, netball and those who are hired by teams outside Botswana, I can just give example of teams in South Africa which have hired our players right here from Botswana and those young boys are paid by these particular teams. We have not reached where we want to reach, that is the reason why we are still developing our strategy of 2028 with Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to make sure that we turn sports into an industry.

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