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Montsho primed for one last Olympic chance

Fear is only a feeling, it cannot hold me back, the past is gone, today is now and I face it head on. Today I see each moment as an opportunity to express my greatness. An opportunity is simply a possibility until I act on it. Thank you Batswana for your great support and I want to thank God for so many reasons. I love you all, only three hours left then we will see what happens.

These were Amantle Montshoâ’s words of courage and hope before she was to face 50 seconds of a life defining moment at the London Olympics games in the 400m race.The eyes of the world were watching in great but tense anticipation as Montsho, then 28 years old, was about to confirm herself as one of the greatest athlete of her generation, but in the end, it turned out that the 400m track and field indomitable queen succumbed to that fear.

Her eyes and that of Batswana shed a tear when she finished fourth in a devastating race dominated and bossed by American rivals. It was her second Olympic Games finals.Montsho made a fringe appearance at her Olympics debut in 2004 in Greece. Not much was expected from her then.However, it was 12 years ago in Beijing when the transition from hope to realisation started to take shape.

She qualified to the finals but came last in a breath-taking race won by Christine Ohuruogu of Great Britain while Sanya Richards Ross got bronze.But in the 2012 Olympics, Richards-Ross became the first American woman to take a gold medal in the track and field of women’s 400 metres final.

With a time of 49.55 seconds, her fellow American mate, Dee Dee Trotter — the then latest contender to the throne — came in third place in a race in which the first four runners, Amantle included went under 50 seconds.And four years later, the opportunity refused to present itself again. She watched the 2016 Olympics Games held in Brazil on the side-lines as she served a two-year suspension for testing positive on a banned substance.

Although she returned a year later to turn back the hands of time at the Commonwealth games, it became a testament that Montsho’s talent can carry her beyond unimaginable heights.Whatever one may think of the Botswana queen, it is hard to argue and it was also some statement.At 34, Montsho had run 400m in 50.15sec, not only a season’s best but the tenth recorded best time of the Commonwealth games, this was in April, when most athletes were still shaking off their rust from yester year.

It was more difficult to argue a case for Montsho who has won every medal on global stages, who has chased down time and shattered some national records, but again, who never won any Olympic medal.
The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho is however adamant that this is a chance for Montsho to win an Olympic medal in her otherwise illustrious career.
It is of course one more opportunity for her to win a medal that lacks in her medal cabinet, I have hope, he said.Besides this, Olympic medal jinxed Montsho has already secured her greatness as an athlete.

Now she hopes to leave a legacy far beyond the finishing line. Will she be on the verge of her greatest victory yet? At the age of 36 years, when many athletes are going past their peak, it is difficult to tell.She has won numerous medals collected at different taxing international stages.One more medal at Tokyo 2020 – her 12th in her career- would make her immortal: the undisputed greatest of all time in Botswana. To this date, she has 11 medals, of which 8 are gold and 3 are silver.

Montsho has seen it all. From cusps of glory to the jaws of hell. At one point in her race, she was beaten cruelly just fractions of a second at the finishing line. One day, 8 years ago, she applied the same tactic on her fiercest rival, Allyson Felix, to change the colour of the medal; from silver to gold.The doping scandal four years ago might come with a black mark on her fulfilling career, but Montsho’s races are well documented in the world and has battled strong characters from all corners of the athletic globe.Sanya Richard Ross, Allison Felix and Dee Dee Trotter together with Great Britain’s Christine Ohuruogu are some of the world- class names the Botswana queen has taken to the sword.

But arriving for the third time onto the Olympic stage, Montsho’s contest is expected to shape up as a battle between familiar opponents.  Legendary Felix has also qualified but there are other newly born athletes of this race.Montsho’s standing has never been in serious doubt. The re-affirmation of her pre-eminence should give the Tokyo 2020 Olympic stadium yet another precious memory. Like it did 8 years ago at the world athletics championship, recording an impressive time of 49.54, which many believed was a corner stone of her career.

Many doubted her especially after she tested positive. But thanks to this experience earned in many years of running, Montsho finally became the face of the country when she notched a qualification over the past weekend. The way that she ran was much better than past championship and qualification dull moments. In fact, she is now the reason why rivalry exists between her and the rest of the world.As the eight runners stepped into their blocks, the University of Botswana stadium seethed with a combination of tension and sheer glee. The Maun born champion came out of blocks very comfortably but seemed to struggle alone the way to the podium finish, but as the crowning moment presented itself, all her supporters who were watching knew how lucky they were to witness a race that turned out to fulfil their expectations.

She was turbo charged from position four and loped her way to a respectable time ” a time that was good enough to book another meeting with 400m heavyweights in Tokyo Japan.

Sport

BFA faces ministry backlash

11th January 2022
MacLean Letshwiti

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.

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Sport

Mamelodi rejects BFA CEO post

11th January 2022
Township Rollers CEO: Mamelodi

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.

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Sport

Rollers veterans face exit

20th December 2021
premier league

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.

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