On the wee hours of Tuesday morning, the anticipation grew enormous as Botswana’s long-standing heroine of the track and field. Amantle Victor Nkape (formerly Montsho) entered the Tokyo National Stadium for one last leap effort to the Olympic medal.
It was supposed to be her first installment action on the Japanese athletics stage through the qualifying heats, but it proved to be a cameo appearance for her as fate would have it. Just after the sound of the gun, the loudest adulation back home in Botswana came to a standstill within the 200m distance as Montsho struggled, hoped, and gave in while others outpaced her on the 400m distance she has dominated for the longest time.
Like Usain Bolt in the world championships 2017, Nkape’s otherwise glittering career was shockingly put to a halt as she laid down in pain, head buried in her hands. It was not what the bookmarkers had anticipated, but clearly, there was a huge upset. Until now, nobody knows what happened to her, but it is clear it was a race that ended in a cry of pain and a whimper.
Sadly, this was not a farewell party that Botswana and Montsho had in mind, especially that it was supposed to be the very last dance on the international stage. Her failure to finish that heat event would have normally cast a pall over the rest of the race. However, with age also a determining factor, patriots in Botswana felt frustrated. They instantly shed a tear—the one Olympic medal lacking on her trophy cabinet was again out of reach.
The incident will go down as one of her devastating races — memories of London 2012, Rio 2016 came flooding back, all confirming that Montsho. However, in all fairness, an all-conquering runner has a jinx when performing on the Olympic stage. In 2012, when age was on her side, she had legs to carry her; she realised very late that her counterparts did not beat her, but she was outdone by fear and anxiety to perform on the biggest stage of them all.
The psychological aspect is one area that has been ignored locally when athletes are in preparation. Sport and performance psychology focuses on helping athletes reach goals and cope with the anxiety that can impede performance. An athlete faces the monumental task of dealing with an adrenaline rush before they can think of crossing the line in a couple of seconds. As Baboloki Thebe once admitted, many of them fail to cope, which postures our athletes for failure.
In both the two Olympic Games that Montsho has participated in, stories of lack of psychological support never failed to crop out. The Tokyo 2020 games were just a continuation.
She is a known athlete who frequently suffers from stage fright, but when she qualified for this year’s games, there was great hope that she would bury her otherwise uncomfortable path. At the age of 37, she had hoped to leave a legacy far beyond the finishing line. Before her most remarkable fall, it was always easy to argue for her case.
She has won numerous medals, collected at different taxing international stages. By why not an Olympic medal? As it stands, she has 11 medals dangling by her neck. The 12th one, perhaps the Olympic medal, refused to come, which would have marked her as immortal.
The curtain has closed over her illustrious running career. She came to Tokyo games with a season-best time of 52.67, but she left the scene without recording any. But that as maybe, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) chief executive officer, Tuelo Serufho once said, ‘Motsho’s was suspension over doping allegations cannot overshadow what she has achieved in the past. And the past is eight gold and three silver medals.
A delegation from FIFA, the world football governing body, has left heads rolling after concluding what some call ‘early findings’ that Botswana Football Association (BFA) secretariat has not misused FIFA funds contrary to widespread reports and criticism. This comes to the fore against the much peddled P8.8 million which disappeared within the coffers of the association.
However, FIFA delegation led by David Fani, a former BFA boss himself, finds out that the funds have been used to projects they were not initially meant for. The delegation cited money for covid-19 which was meant to cushion clubs from distress due to lack of playing and was used to pay BFA employees. However, the findings by FIFA are said to have left the world of football divided on the way forward. They are those who are skeptical about the manner in which investigations were carried out but are afraid to voice out for fear of being victimized or being relieved of their duties.
While FIFA is adamant that the funds were misallocated, BFA finds itself at pains to answer a difficult question where some staff members at the finance department were sacked. More complicating the already strained situation is the decision to suspend the Chief Executive Officer, Goabaone Taylor and threatening to expel her while she had an over-riding duty to prioritize BFA funds when corona had ravaged the administration and operational wing of the association.
It might be that the National Executive Committee was building a case for her and would now want to look as if they were saving face when they sidelined her. “During the four day visit, the delegation carried out its assessment and interviewed BFA staff and former employees. At the end of the investigation, the delegation briefed the NEC on initial findings. The delegation informed the NEC that it found no evidence of misappropriation or embezzlement of funds,” reads part of BFA statement.
BFA has claimed that its brand has been “deeply tarnished” and that its “ability to use its resources for positive actions throughout the country, and to meet its mission of supporting and enhancing the game of football” has been “impaired” as a consequence of the actions of the football officials and some sports administrators under their watch. “We are not out of the woods yet, we had made good strides in earning FIFA’s trust; we will wait to see what the remedial action will be. However, we will be tightening our gabs and ensuring that we regain the financial confidence we worked so hard for,” BFA president Maclean Letshwiti said.
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.