By Sabelo Gwebu | 2021-03-01
Associations have reacted differently to the sports allocation in Minister of Finance Neal Rijkenberg's national budget. Sports, through the Eswatini Sports and Recreation Council (ESRC) received an unchanged E7 724 710 with Eswatini Judo Federation (EJF) President Princess Thobile lamenting that they hardly used one lilangeni in the previous year’s allocation, owing to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “This is disappointing. We hardly used lilangeni in the previous year due to the pandemic that forced us to stop activity. We have had to forgo funds we did not use last year. We have a lot of catching up to do. ‘‘As EJF, our plans for this year included embarking on training camps throughout the region in order to catch up for the lack of international exposure last year. We understand that champions are not built on the home ground but through exposure to regional and international counterparts. While it is going to prove very difficult to develop our athletes on the current budget, I do appreciate that a lot of time went into drawing up the budget and I trust that the government has good reasons for this rationale,” she said. Basketball Association of Eswatini (BASE) President Nhlanhla Maphanga appreciated the little made available under the current economic situation. “We need to express government appreciation for the little made available to sport in keeping the flames burning. The pandemic has left economic devastation and we’re all looking to ways and means to make a living given all the necessary restrictions. We have concentrated on trainings as submitted and conducted by FIBA Zone VI,” he said. Maphanga also conveyed his association's condolences to all those had lost loved ones due to this pandemic. “We pray the almighty God will give us strength to persevere,” he said. Eswatini Football Association (EFA) also received an unchanged E5 million from Friday's budget. “We appreciate government support to football. EFA will review the allocation and come up with a viable plan on how best to utilise what has been made available,” said EFA Marketing and Communications Officer Muzi Radebe. Eswatini Boxing Association (EBA) Secretary General Thabsile Mngomezulu predicted a bleak future for sports, especially because sports associations had difficulty sourcing funds from ESRC the previous year with the same allocation. “This is a year like no other- and truly like no other.’’ As an association we appreciate the increase of the budget in education and health departments to mitigate the havoc caused by the virus.” “That being said, it is really a setback to us as an association because we solely depend on government grants. If the budget has remained as it was and we were having challenges of sourcing out funds from ESRC in the previous year, it means the struggle continues unabated. In the year 2021/2022 we have a number of programs which we have planned to implement but from this budget really we need to have plan B,” she said.
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