North West athletes still waiting for Covid-19 relief funding
Prominent SA road runner Thabang Mosiako has opened up about his frustrations after months of waiting for Covid-19 relief funding that is yet to materialise. The father of two admits to having sleepless nights when he thinks about his hardship and supporting his young family.
The 25-year-old Potch-based runner was furious when he missed out on the R20 000 which was handed out by the national department of Sports, Arts, Culture and Recreation to athletes in July. He then applied for the provincial relief made available by the North West government in September, but is still waiting to get paid.
“Yes, I am still waiting for the relief fund money. I have not been lucky when it comes to claiming from the relief fund. In July, my teammates helped themselves to the R20 000, but I was left helpless as I didn’t get anything. I have applied for the funding in the province, but nothing has happened,” said a frustrated Mosiako.
The MEC for sport in that province Virginia Tlhapi said she has signed off on the relief fund documents and that athletes would be paid soon. Tlhapi has promised that she would pay the athletes before 2020 is over. "The athletes that applied for funding will receive their payment before the end of the year,” she said.
But Mosiako, who was blessed with a baby in January, does not know what to believe anymore. The 2017 SA 5 000m champion is a full time athlete and relies on running to support his wife and two children. He is grateful for the monthly retainer he receives from the Boxer Athletics Club which has kept him going during these difficult months. “If I were working apart from running, I would be able to support my family. I had lots of races lined up this year, but they got canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic," explained the 2018 Tembisa Street Mile 10km champion.
Mosiako's biggest regret is that he has no form of higher education, which has taught him a hard lesson about relying on athletics is one's only source of income. “It is important to study and have a qualification so that you can have something to fall back on when things don’t go your way in the sport,” he said. For example, four-time Olympian Khotso Mokoena runs his own business, while Elroy Gelant works in the HR department at the University of North West. The two athletes did not apply for the funding as they have other means to earn a living apart from running.