BoBA short changes athletes

22nd November 2017
NO MATCH: National championship cancelled Source:The Midweek Sun

Reports coming out of the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) camp this week are that the once thriving sport code is currently experiencing financial doldrums. The state of BoBA financing came under scrutiny after the cancellation of the association’s flagship national championships, which was scheduled for Jwaneng mining town this month. Allegations reaching Sun Sports are that BoBA spent close to P 450 000 on 49 kg boxer Mohammed Otukile’s participation at the AIBA World Boxing Championships held in Germany recently. According to sources this misguided trip to Germany is alleged to have contributed to the bleeding of the associations’ already depleted coffers. According to sources close to the matter, the association failed to draw an accurate budget and ended up spent thousands of Pula’s in assisting Otukile to compete in Germany. However, decisions made leading up to the world championships have came back to haunt the association after Otukile did not make it past preliminary stages of the event.

This past week saw BoBA shocking the local boxing community after an abrupt cancellation the 2017 national championships just two days before the event. “We regret to announce the cancellation of the planned 2017 championships scheduled to be held in Jwaneng. The championship has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control,” reads an official statement from the troubled association.

The national championship and the Best of the best tournaments are the biggest events in the BoBA calendar. Cancellation of the event greatly disappointed both boxers and coaches as they worked hard all year in anticipation of the showpiece. A week before the scheduled event, some boxers who preferred to speak under the condition of anonymity were already suspecting something odd would happen. “Silence from our leadership was just too much, nothing was being said to us and we had doubt that this event will go on,” they said.

This week some of the boxers within BoBA told Sun Sports that they received reports suggesting that the association was financially constrained. Nevertheless, BoBA is said to have held negotiations with a potential sponsors from the diamond-mining town, which gave boxers a ray of hope. It is only through the championships that BoBA gets to select national team athletes. However, due to the current situation, it remains unclear how BoBA will resolve the situation.

On the other hand, some boxers were arguing that it would not be fair for the management to select athletes based on their interclub tournaments. In addition, sources within BoBA argued that the whole situation is most likely to ruin a relationship between BoBA and Debswana Mining Company. Debswana has been sponsoring the amateur combat sport awards for the past few years. The awards are normally held shortly after the national championships and served as motivation to athletes who excelled throughout the year. Apart from international bouts, it is only through national championship that boxers can receive monetary prizes from BoBA in some occasions.“Some of our athletes are unemployed, and are only in boxing for the love of it.

As we speak athletes have not been given an explanation as to why the tournament was cancelled, it is disheartening, “said one local boxing coach who preferred anonymity. For his part BoBA president Thato Patlakwe said allegations suggesting that Otukile played a part in BoBA’s current financial status are not true. “The bulk of the finance was from Otukile ‘s Olympic and Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) funds, we did assist but only to a small degree,” Patlakwe said. Patlakwe confirmed that the association does not have money saying they spent a significant amount of money sending both athletes and coaches abroad.

The BoBA president revealed that they used a significant amount of money in developing athletes, coaches and referees. Among others they sent nine boxers to All Africa Boxing Championships held in Congo Brazzaville a few months back. Moreover he said, “We sent 10 coaches and referees to Namibia and another 10 to South Africa, our mandate is to have enough qualified personnel of world class standard, we felt it was necessary to invest in them and they did us proud.” The soft-spoken president said there is no need panic just yet as there is a possibility that they can still host the national championships before the end of the year. He said they had almost sealed the deal with the people of Jwaneng however they could not agree on the last details of their agreements. “We did not want to ruin our partnership, there is a possibility of bringing a very glamorous national championship next year because we are busy engaging different stake holders for financial assistance.

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