WE ARE four weeks away from the continent’s biggest games, the Africa Games penned in for Rabat, in Morocco.
The continent’s multi-sporting event held once every four years runs from 16 to 30 August and will see athletes from different African countries competing in 26 sporting codes while they will also use the platform to seek qualification for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Surely, most of the countries, if not all, have already announced their teams for the games; probably apart from Lesotho.
On Monday I contacted a few athletes whom I hope would represent the country and was shocked to learn that they had no idea whether they would travel to Rabat.
A few weeks ago, I sought information regarding the team’s preparations, and I was told that there had been delays because of the clashes between the Lesotho National Olympics Committee (LNOC) and the Lesotho Sport and Recreation Commission (LSRC) over who among them had the authority over the games.
I wasn’t surprised though. It is common knowledge that for local sports administrators, they come first before the athletes.
The games are now being convened by the Association of National Olympic Committee of Africa (ANOCA). This created confusion between the LSRC and LNOC on who would be responsible for the games this year.
It was however, later resolved that the two bodies would work hand together with their members sharing the positions in the delegation that would travel with the team to Rabat.
What worries me is that all this time when the two associations were fighting over positions, what was happening with the poor athletes? Were they given adequate attention in their preparations?
I was told that the team is going to be made up of the athletes who are already in the podium performance and high performance programmes, which to me sounds like a good idea because they are already seasoned campaigners with exposure.
However, my worry is that athletes also need proper preparatory programmes based on the competitions that they are training for. So, if up to this week they were still unaware of their participation, where does that leave them and their coaches?
Participating in big competitions such as this one needs players who are mentally fit and if our athletes will know of their participation three weeks before they are intended to travel to Morocco then we cannot expect them to do wonders.
My humble plea is that our sports admins should stop putting their interests first when eyeing international trips just because this is where they get lots of money.
They should always put the athletes’ interest first before they start fighting for positions in the trips to ensure that the teams get better preparations that give them a competitive edge. That helps their esteem when they are among fellow competitors and confidence on the track.
This also follows for other federations whose athletes are likely to make the team. We must consider the athletes first.