The incongruent messages from key IAAF personnel validates the suspicions surrounding Isaac Makwala’s shambolic barring from the 400m final at the London Stadium on frivolous ‘medical grounds’.
The most ridiculous claim from London was the suggestion that Makwala experienced the forceful expulsion of the contents of his stomach and part of the small intestines through the mouth for 18 hours! Surely he would have died! This day dreaming smacks of cowardly chicanery. The decision to block Makwala from competing in his favoured race smacks of sabotage and fraud. Pundits were shocked at the level of poor communication by the IAAF officials after they delivered a fraudulent verdict on Botswana 400m sprint icon’s medical condition.
Rightly so, the Botswana Government is incensed and has instructed a team of lawyers to confront the IAAF on the ‘unfair’ treatment of Makwala. The actions of the IAAF have been found wanting and rickety, the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng told Parliament that Government lawyers are busy drafting protest papers directed at the IAAF following the unfair treatment of Makwala. In fact it could have been more pain for Makwala, the 400m sprint icon was sabotaged and blocked from participating in the 200m heats as well – the 400m final came after he missed the 200m heats.
Allegations were flying thick and fast to the effect that this was a calculated move designed to favour the IAAF preferred athlete, a poster boy of some sort, Wayde van Niekerk in the wake of Usain Bolt's retirement. IAAF feared that Makwala was going to embarrass their chosen would-be winner according to pundits. Minister Olopeng has indicated that IAAF officials rejected Botswana delegation's medical report and violently barred Makwala from even entering the stadium in London because of an assumed 'medical condition'.
Pundits have dismissed the IAAF's 'ridiculous' grounds for barring Makwala and it is very likely that the Botswana Government will push this matter to the last stage. There is no doubt that the IAAF medical delegation’s poisonous move almost scattered Makwala and team Botswana's chance to a podium finish. The psychology of the team was negatively affected by the irrational decision by the IAAF. But the resolve of Makwala and his team mates and a goodwill support from the crowds and social media cheered the team.
For his account Makwala, after IAAF officials cooked up another statement claiming elapse of a 48hour quarantine for the 400m athlete, he was allowed to race against a time of 20.53seconds in order to qualify for the semi-finals of the 200m race. He blistered his way through the wet surface and powered across the finish line in 20.20 seconds. Makwala further shamed the IAAF conspirators in the semi-finals, clocking an impressive 20.14 seconds to qualify for the finals.
But in a final showdown, a nation full of hope watched in shock as Makwala succumbed under immense pressure while 400m gold winner Wayde van Niekerk gave him a torrid time. But it was Turkish sprinter Ramil Guliyev who gate-crushed the finals becoming the global king of the 200m race- scooping a gold medal. Clearly the local lad was always going to find it difficult to break boundaries. In a space of two days he ran three races recording contrasting times. Unbelievably, Makwala clocked an awful time on the finals- 20:44.
Pundits point out that fatigue, conspiracies and mounting pressure are factors that might have played a disappointing role that saw Makwala losing out in the last minute. At some point there were attempts by the IAAF head of medical delegation, Dr Venning: She explained: “He had taken a history, examined him, pulse, respiratory and the history from this gentleman is clear that he had symptoms similar to all the other athletes classified as having this gastro-intestinal disease.” Makwala and the Botswana delegation have denied all these made up statements. Makwala insists he was never medically examined by the IAAF doctors. At some point it was claimed that Makwala vomited for more than 18 hours, a ridiculous suggestion that would have sent Makwala straight to grave because of loss of body fluids.
Venning’s explanations, fell short because she could not even tell whether Makwala’s symptoms “could be attributed to any other reason as opposed to making the assumption that it is norovirus”. The IAAF doctor claimed the decision to bar Makwala was meant to protect other athletes in the stadium – where as he was set aside purely on assumption. Social media came to Makwala’s rescue, it has to be stated. Michael Johnson and other former athletes followed Makwala’s case through and through and regularly updated on it. Batswana joined the fray in their numbers and indeed the IAAF was shamed and it ordered a time trial race for the ‘Badman’.
Makwala rewarded with P 100,000
At the High Level Consultative Council (HLCC) meeting on Thursday, President Lt Gen Ian Khama hailed the tremendous determination and spirit that was displayed by Isaac Makwala in the face of his "unfair" barring by the IAAF from running in the 400m final and 200m qualifier this week. The President informed the meeting that it had been decided to reward Makwala with the P 100,000 gold medal incentive that he would have been otherwise entitled to if he had won the race. Government position is that Makwala was denied a chance to compete for the prize hence the decision to reward him.
The President also thanked the domestic and international media, officials and members of public for their support which had been rewarded with last night's special run. The President also announced that a special day will be scheduled in the near future to honour Makwala. Meanwhile interviewed and quoted elsewhere, the IAAF World Athletics Championships 2017, Wayde van Niekerk said wished he could give 400m gold to Isaac Makwala.
"I really wish him a speedy recovery. On Monday, I saw him just before the 200m heats and the only thing I could think of was wrapping my arms around him and saying get well soon because I wouldn’t wish that on anyone," van Niekerk was quoted as saying by The Guardian. "It is such a massive pity. Obviously, there are a lot of fingers that are being pointed right now. I would allow him to have his fair opportunity. I wish he could have run. I wish I could give him my medal to be honest. But this is sport. We all have disappointments, we all have tough times – we just have to fight back even harder,” he added.
Botswana Football Association (BFA) leadership finds itself caught between a rock and a hard place owing to the ever burning issue of mischievous spending at operational level.
While the association coffers have suddenly dried up, with some staff members getting the boot, the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has threatened to place the Maclean Letshwiti led association under strict funding for unspecified period of time.
WeekendSport learns that the sport ministry is not happy about the financial status of the association and will want to act before everything get messy.
At the close of last year, the Ministry had to intervene for the Women National Football Team to travel to Ethiopia as BFA had no penny to cover for the travelling costs.
As if that was not enough, the BFA December wages were covered from the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) purse, an abnormality that BFA is at pains to explain.
All these incidents, however, coincide with a time when the Sport ministry is putting in place a new revised modeling for funding. The model requests national sports associations to explain in details the why they will need funding for their calendar of events.
Moreover, the Ministry is eager to prioritize funding basing on the performance of the sport code on a yearly basis.
“Things have changed, we are not going to splash money like we used to do, and we want a code to explain fully how they are going to spend the money,” a source shared.
Moreover, we will be funding looking at the overall performance of the code, we are not going to fund just because it is football and it is loved by many people.”
At worst, the ministry will want the association to account and should BFA fail to balance their books, the National Executive Committee(NEC) is likely to be dissolved by the ministry.
Sources further state that the Ministry’s patience has actually wilted away concerning codes that abuse funds. In the case of BFA, sources point out that they are likely to get half subvention until everything goes back to normalcy.
On a good year, BFA subvention reaches P 5.4million annually. Should the ministry persists, BFA will start operations of the year on a budget of about P 2.7 million. It will not be for the first time the association finds itself bearing the brunt.
Sometimes in 2018 when Tshekedi Khama was the Minister, the association’s subvention were cut down to pay an old standing debt that amounted to P3 million.
However, high ranking officials at the association believe funds can still be accounted for and refuses to accept that they have been reckless when it comes to spending. The official who does not want be named is of the view that the association had to halt FIFA projects and concentrate on incidental expenses brought by COVID -19.
According to BFA expenditure, the CEO gets the higher chunk and that’s where most of the money went. A national trip to South Africa by senior national team has also seen the association spending close to a million.
Moreover, the communication department of the association is bleeding more money after a certain PR agency was appointed nearly two years ago.
Township Rollers first ever Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Bennett Mamelodi has reportedly turned down an offer from Botswana Football Association (BFA) to take over the reins at the association as the new CEO.
This comes to the fore following the ‘always expected’ suspension of Goabaone Taylor in December 2021, on account of internal investigations relating to the misappropriation of funds that transpired before her eyes.
Sources speaking to this publication indicate that Taylor will eventually vacate her position, barely eight months after her historic appointment as the first ever lady to lead the often stubborn BFA secretariat.
Masterminds behind her appointment and eventual fall from grace wanted to therefore give Mamelodi an opportunity to assume the role, but the soft spoken administrator is reported to have chickened out, opting to stay put at Township Rollers.
It is not yet known why an ambitious man like Mamelodi’s feet will turn cold over a job that commands respect across football circles.
However, it is reported that the once rejected Mfolo Mfolo will have a second bite on the cherry after BFA president MacLean Letshwiti confided to his close allies that he was misled at a time when Mfolo was sacked.
The equally soft spoken Mfolo, who too has footprints at Township Rollers was fired just after the October 2020 elections for allegedly failing to take charge when the national under 17 was disqualified from the COSAFA tournament after failing the MRI test.
All the while, reports indicate that Mamelodi is eyeing the Botswana Football League (BFL) post where he made his name, but close sources continue to deny that the brother to Ashford Mamelodi will want to go back to Lekidi Football Centre given the manner in which his dismissal was handled about six years ago.
At the time of going to print, he could not be reached for comment.
As things stand, Mamelodi has been appointed as the project manager of BFL while holding the fort at Rollers. He is anticipated to provide insight on how the league can source sponsors for itself and run smoothly without struggles. He is also expected to erect a working structure for the BFL.
Mamelodi has previously worked with Jwaneng Galaxy as well as interim spells with Orapa United to help both clubs turn professional. He is said to be in love with what he does at Popa and it is why he is no longer intrigued by BFA political positions.
However, sources mention that Mamelodi will be tried once again but are skeptical that the man will agree to the deal even if it is mouthwatering.
Township Rollers veterans, who are reaching the end of their careers are hoping to part on high note, but the club has had a slow start to the season, playing second fiddle to its city rivals, Gaborone United. The Reds has won the first edition of FA Cup since 2012 — now under the sponsorship of network giants, Orange — to send a memo to league rivals that this season is not business as usual.
Rollers has responded in controversial fashion, firing coach Hassan Oktay after suffering the ignominy of being knocked out by top flight football rockies, Masitiaoka. The Blues have since appointed Frenchman Romain Folz to turn the club’s pot of gold into silverware, an attempt that his predecessor, Oktay has failed early into the season. After clinching players with vast experience, the expectation is still enormous at Popa that all available cups including the league title should find space in their trophy cabinet.
Also, the club would want to traverse a torrid passage of CAF champion’s league, reaching group stages, once more. It is in this regard that Ofentse Nato is hoping for his own great leap forward in effort to end his injury nightmare. The no nonsense defensive midfielder has only featured once for the team this year owing to unspecified injuries. This is the first time, in his football carrier that Nato misses the first five opening games of the season.
His absence could have left Rollers struggling. But he too, could struggle to return to his former self, missing the opportunity to drive Rollers back to glory days, alongside the rest of a gilded trio of the club; Maano Ditshupo, Simisane Mathumo and of course Motsholetsi Sikele. But the teams’ insistency and promise to make a loud impact this season is yet to bear fruits. The quartet will have to stand strong otherwise the ambition mirrors a tomorrow that will never come.
As part of the multi-million project of Jagdish Shah, the players were recruited to embody the present and future of the club. But all of them are on the wrong side of 30. Maano is 36, Nato is 32, Mathumo is 30 while Sikele is 30. Both Ditshupo and Mathumo are exchanging the armband while Sikele has almost lost his starting berth to youngsters. Nato is also slowing down and it appears he has seen his better days.
The talent of the big four should make the case for Rollers to finally make headline impact, particularly in the league and FA cup starting in January next year. Rollers coaches agree that as a unit they could find an edge and this band of serial winners glimpse glory. The sense all could awaken for the business end is enhanced by their respective pedigrees. All the four know the pleasure of taking Rollers to glory days, they also understand the pain of failing with the club.
Ditshupo in particular, has been the most consistent player of all in Rollers squad; it betrays logic why he was never called to represent the country. In the first five games of the season, Rollers have been nothing but a luke warm club. They have emitted mixed reactions. They started well, clobbering Lobatse Outfit, Extension Gunners by 2-0. Against premier league rookies, Masitaoka, they huffed and puffed, but the absence of midfielder Ditshupo was conspicuously seen as they were knocked out of the tournament.
However, the quartet returned to the lineup for the first time as a unit against Notwane in a midweek fixture. Rollers were not convincing despite winning 1-0 to return to the summit. Judging by their performance and age, the quartert might not play Rollers ball again next season as premier league retirement looms.