Only 3 athletes represented the country at the Youth Olympics
Minister of Sport Thapelo Olopeng has described the recent decline in local athletes participation at the just ended Youth Olympics as serious indictment on the development of sport in the country, and has called for all relevant sporting bodies to introspect in sports development programmes.
Yesterday (Monday),Team Botswana that represented the country at the 2018 Buenos Aires Youth Olympics, whose main objective is to encourage young people around the world to practice sport; raise awareness of and encourage them to adopt the values of Olympism.were hosted to a welcome ceremony in Gaborone. The team comprised of only three (3) athletes from just two sporting codes, swimming an athletes, interestingly, the number of athletes that went to the games was less than the number of officials (2 coaches, 2 doctors, Chef De Mission and Team attache).
Minister Olopeng expressed his concerns in the decline in athlete participation at the games and further called his ministry as well as lower structures to increase their efforts in sports development.
“The athletes gave their best, unfortunately they did not bring any medals back home. We thank you for representing Botswana. The Youth Games are just but a stepping stone into the international stage. You met fellow athletes from all over the world, The Youth Games are developmental, they introduce the young athletes to international competition; hence unlike with the senior team, we don’t set medal targets for them. The main focus is participation and introduction to the global stage,” reads Olopeng’s remarks.
“While at the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games, we sent a team of 8 athletes from athletics, swimming, Judo and badminton, for the 2018 Youth Games we could only send 3 athletes from swimming and athletics. This is a serious indictment on the development of sport in the country. A serious introspection on our sport development pathway is critical. When we went for the 2016 Rio Olympic Games we had a significant number of athletes coming from the 2014 Nanjing Youth Olympic Games joining the senior team, the likes of Naomi Ruele, Karabo Sibanda, Baboloki Thebe, Gavin Mogopa etc.
There is need for the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Botswana National Sport Commission and Botswana National Olympic Committee with other sports structures, to work together to develop a clear development pathway from grassroots to elite level. The pathway should provide for a feeder system, which will ensure strong representation at the right levels from national, regional, continental and international levels. This also calls for harmonisation of programmes and consolidation of efforts, to ensure that the available resources at our disposal deliver on the desired results,” further said the Minister’s speech.
He in the end stated that the doping continues to be a major concern in the development of sports in the country and encouraged the need to educate athletes on the matter.
“Doping continues to be a thorn in the development of our sport as the scandals surrounding issues of doping do tarnish the image and kills the integrity of sport. Efforts to educate and eradicate doping amongst our athletes are very imperative and each one of us has a role to play to ensure that our athletes compete clean,” he concluded.