Experts attempt to help Tebogo Letsile with the answer.
After producing some swashbuckling performances in the last two athletics seasons, including breaking the 100m Junior World Record twice, sensational local sprinter, Tebogo Letsile has attracted universal attention.
Letsile announced that he will move to the United States of America, where he will join the University of Oregon.
Speaking after the World Junior Championships (Cali22) in August, Letsile said he was planning to move to the USA for studies. “Currently, I’m working on going to college,” he said answering to a question about whether he intended to turn pro or seek an opportunity in college. “I’ve been to the USA a couple of times and the best school by far is the University of Oregon. By the middle of September I’ll be there.”
The move has drawn split opinions by those close to the developments regarding its advantages and disadvantages. Athletics coach, Daniel Lagamang, who studied outside the country through an athletics scholarship, took to social media and shared several points, highlighting the challenges that Letsile is likely to encounter.
Lagamang shared that, apart from the privilege of getting a high quality education, especially from top institutions, Letsile must be prepared that once he runs under National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA), he will not compete in any diamond league events or allowed to run any races that have price money, which will make it difficult for him to turn professional for the next 4 years of his stay at the University.
Lagamang further argued that Botswana has got the best coaches who can train Letsile and push him to explore his full potential in home soils.
“We are blessed to have coaches like Justice Dipeba, Chilume Chippa Ntshwarang , and many more that I didn't mention, let us not take for granted the art that these coaches have, they have produced great and top athletes, I have no doubt that they can coach anyone, I mean anyone,” he said.
“I will briefly touch on Letsile's training, guys I have seen him training many times, the kind of training he does is world class, so I will not comment further. We have great facilities here for strength and conditioning, believe me. If it was me, I would go nowhere. Let me just mention the weather guys, the weather here in Botswana is perfect for training, During off season around September to December, it's very perfect for training especially when it is too hot, that's a topic of another day. Being in Oregon means you will be coached by American coaches, Usain Bolt refused to train in the US,” Lagamang outlined his arguments.
Despite the above mentioned points, Lecturer in the Sports and Science Department with the University of Botswana, Dr. Tshephang Tshube has got different opinion and argues that the star athlete should move to the USA, noting that it will be a ‘huge risk’ to have Letsile continue his development in the country.
“Talent identification is different from talent development, we should not confuse the two, he has been identified but now he needs to be developed, for that to happen, we need a system that develop athletes. Physically, the best that is currently used in the world is called, athletes centre coach lead and medically supported, it needs a full time coach, full time psychologist, a nutritionist and strong medical system to look after the athlete,” Tshube highlighted.
He added that Botswana does not have enough support systems to enhance high level performance, including welfare incentives for athletes.
“If we take Letsile and plug him here, it will be a major risk for his career because we would be trying to experiment our ability to be successful on him. We don’t have proper structure or systems that support athletes career development, if we don’t have something like that, it is really not ideal to put such a talented athlete on a situation like ours, it’s a major risk,” he warned.
Tshube also dismissed reports that Letsile might not turn professional as a result of enrolling at the Oregon University, highlighting that, the university has since revised their terms and the latest amendments allow athletes to compete at a professional level.
“Letsile is talented enough to also make the calls and draw terms that suites his interests, we shouldn’t appear desperate because he is extremely talented which is why he’s drawn comparisons to Usain Bolt; we shouldn’t be begging because we have the best, we must not be apologetic about the great talent we have; if the Oregon University can’t take him, another University will,” Tshube shared.
He also said talent development is an intentional exercise and called on the government to resume school sport.