The Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) says it intends to develop their allocated 5, 1 hectares of land into a High Performance Centre (HPC).
The land, which was given to the association by the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), is situated in the vicinity of the National Stadium. To this end, the association has already submitted a proposal to the International Association of Athletic Federations (IAAF) to be approved to build the HPC.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, BAA president, Thari Mooketsi, said should the BAA proposal be accepted by IAAF, the association will build a fully-fledged centre that has, among others, training facilities, track as well as hostels to accommodate athletes.
“We are currently waiting for a response from the IAAF regarding our request to build the centre. As we are not the only country requesting for such a centre, this proposal may be or may not be approved, but as it stands, we will await their (IAAF) response before deciding our next move,” Mooketsi said.
According to the BAA President, if their request is not approved by the IAAF, the association will still go ahead and develop the plot to be used by local athletes.
“The reason we approached the IAAF before developing the plot is because we would like to build good facilities and tracks of international standard that can also be used to host major competitions,” Mooketsi added.
Should the IAAF approve the erection of the HPC, the BAA President says the development will be very beneficial to the high number of young and upcoming athletes, some of whom will find it hard to get sponsorships to train in elite training centres outside the country.
“If you look at the composition of the team that represented the country at the All Africa Games in Mozambique, it was mostly made up of young athletes who train here locally. These athletes have proved that despite getting no elite training, they can hold their own against the best athletes and it is with this in mind that we have proposed to the IAAF to help us with a HPC,” Mooketsi added. “Having the centre will attract to this country highly qualified trainers who will then help our athletes reach their potential. It will cut the costs incurred to take athletes outside the country for elite training,” the BAA president continued.
If the IAAF grants BAA its wish, Mooketsi says the High Performance Centre will be built in phases as it will be very expensive to build if it is to be of international standards. He says as this will be a very expensive process, BAA has already hinted to the BNSC, the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and the relevant Government Departments of its intention as they will be the major stakeholders.
“We will also be looking at engaging other sporting codes in the country to see whether they cannot be partners in the erection of such a facility as it can also be helpful to them when they need training,” he said. With local companies having shown a lot of interest in athletics, more so with the impeccable performance of Amantle Montsho, the BAA President is hopeful that the companies can also be major partners in the erection and running of such a facility which can produce more stars. Right now, we have Amantle, but we still have a lot of young athletes who can emulate her, the likes of Pako Seribe, Leungo Matlhaku, Oarabile Babolai and a host of others who are coming from behind them,” he said.
He says with the government already having designated some schools as Centres of Sports Excellence, building such a facility will be beneficial as the students from such schools will have a place to hone their talent once they are out of such schools. He says it will also provide students with great potential but who are not enrolled in Centres of Sports Excellence as they will have a place to go for better training. Apart from local athletes, should the proposed facility be a success, it may also attract athletes from outside the country who will thus pay money to be enrolled there.