Gov’t ropes in BAA for constituency athletics
The Government of Botswana has evaded embarrassment and possible banning from internationally sanctioned games by International Athletics Association Federations (IAAF) by roping in Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) to foster guidance on technical matters for the athletics constituency competitions expected to start next month.
It appears the government has learnt from its past mistakes when the constituency football tournament was first introduced. According to sources, the international body has been watching with keen interest how government would run the newly introduced athletics competitions. The idea, it is said, was conceived mid last year by Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development. Had the ministry not brought on board BAA, it would have it from all sides, and would have been accused of political interference, athletics sources allege.
The competitions had to be put on hold for some time while modalities were being set up, WeekendSport has been informed. According to those privy to the facts, the two (the Ministry & BAA) have met on numerous occasions to come up with a template on how to simultaneously run the competition without stepping on the toes of IAAF. The international athletics body despises any meddling of government on athletics activities.
“We also had to work on the modalities of incorporating the new sport code into the already existing one and determine the budget which of course remained the same,” an impeccable source told this publication when asked about other reasons that delayed the beginning of competitions.
Already the technical committee has been formulated, headed up by BAA representatives across various constituencies. Sources revealed to this paper that Kenneth Kikwe (BAA VP Technical), Gable Garenamotse (Sport Development Officer), Tshepo Kelaotswe and other technical experts within the association will help in the technical affairs of the competitions.
The technical committees have already drafted the rules and regulations of the competitions. The regulations are broken into five brackets (eligibility, registration, entry qualifications and competition attire.) “Registration is for those athletes with 30 years and below. No foreign national will be permitted to register to participate unless if he/she is naturalized. No employees are allowed to register and participate, other than Ipelegeng, Tirelo Sechaba, Herd boys, House Assistants, Farm Assistants and Government Volunteer Scheme,” reads an eligibility part of the regulations.
Some regulations prohibit athletes who are registered and affiliated to BAA to participate. Only teams/athletes that have not competed in the last 18 months for BAA sanctioned competitions will be allowed to register. “No athlete is allowed to register for more than two events unless the other one is a relay,” read article 3.4 or registration procedure. Though sources and relevant authorities could not clearly articulate to this paper the budget for the athletics competitions, millions are believed to have been set aside for the competitions.
Registration for the competitions started on the 1st of this month until the 30th with the competitions anticipated to begin in July until the 27th of August. There will be two cycles in a year. The competition’s objective is to reach very remote areas where BAA does not always reach and to resuscitate collapsed BAA clubs, talent identification by the national federation. Only football, volleyball and netball had constituency competitions and now athletics, a code carrying the pride of Botswana has joined the bandwagon.
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AFRICAâ€™S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the Worldâ€™s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
â€śAfrica is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.â€ť
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
â€śThe sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africaâ€™s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.â€ť
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
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â€śPolicymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.â€ť
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. â€śFortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.â€ť
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. â€śFirst avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.â€ť
â€śPolicymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.â€ť