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  • Writer's pictureThathe Msimango

Verster admits that ACNW is broke after being hit hard by Covid19 lockdown

Athletics Central North West (ACNW) President Jean Verster has confirmed that the federation is broke after being has been hit hard by the Covid19 pandemic which halted sports across the globe last year. This comes after an outpouring of outrage on social media when news broke that provincial athletes were forced to pay themselves to attend the Sizwe Medical Fund Track & Field Senior Championship over at the Tuks Stadium, forcing some to hike from the North West to Pretoria.

Speaking to the #TheTopRunner Verster confirmed that the office doesn't have money to support athletes because Covid19 hit them hard. "What allegations? Don't say its allegations, yes we didn't support the athletes with either transport fee or accommodation," said Verster during a telephonic interview.

ACNW President Jean Verster says they haven't been able to host an event for over a year which has left the federation almost broke. Photo Credit: Roger Sedres.

"You must remember that we are just a small province and we are yet to host an event in almost two years. We have been hit hard by the Covid19 lockdown and we are forced to make decisions we don't like. The office didn't have money to assist as they were going to the SA champs over the weekend. But some communicated with us and we tried to stretch our helping hand. But no athlete indeed was supported to make a trip to Pretoria," he confirmed.

South African 5 000m record holder Elroy Galant confirmed the news that the athletes covered their travel costs and accommodation out of their pocket. Galant, who won two bronze medals in the 5 000m and 10 000m events at the championships believes in sports is about passion no about money.

Elroy Gelant runs a personal best time at the 2019 Sanlam Cape Town Marathon to qualify for the Olympic Games. Photo Credit: Elroy Gelant.

"Our federation doesn't have money not that I'm defending them in this situation," said Galant, who is also the owner of a 2:10:31 in marathon best which booked him a spot to the Tokyo Olympics. "I communicated with the guys like Jerry Motsau to travel as the group and we got a very cheap place to use there. But we have to understand that our federation was forced to even to minimize staff due to Covid19 so they don't have money. But in sports, these are the situations that test your passion. You have to make sacrifices for you to succeed in life. At the end of the day, it's your career on the line," he said.

But the good news for athletes is that, Verster confirmed that they are planning two athletics meetings to help athletes qualify for the Olympic Games while collecting much needed revenue. The meetings will be held on the 29th of April and 6 May. "We have opened the process for the athletes to apply to participate in our meetings. There are designed for athletes to get competition and hit the good times too. So far we haven't invited any athletes so we shall see who comes forward but at the same time, we want to assist those who want to hit Olympics times. The athletes need these kinds of events," he explained.

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