Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Botswana gears for 2010 World Cup as countdown begins

Despite the 2010 World Cup being about one thousand days away and with intense competition from other countries, Botswana is determined to reap some of the benefits from the tournament. Botswana has already put some measures in place to host some countries during the world’s most prestigious tournament so that it can be marketed world wide. Already, the task force that was designated to make a feasibility study on Botswana’s likely benefits and the areas to be focused on has already released its report.

When delivering the findings of the task force, Chief Executive Officer of Botswana Tourism Board, Myra Sekgororoane, told journalists on Friday that Botswana stands a better chance of reaping something because some countries prefer to set up camps away from the host country which is usually characterised by a lot of frenzy. She said Botswana, as the nearest neighbour, stands a better chance.

Sekgoroane also said Botswana is capable of hosting two international teams in Gaborone looking at the facilities in terms of accommodation and stadiums that are available. She said three stadiums have been earmarked for possible usage by any visiting country. The three stadiums are the National Stadium, Sir Seretse Khama (SSKB) and the University of Botswana.

Meanwhile, the Minister of Environment, Wildlife and Tourism, Kitso Mokaila, said that it’s not only the stadiums that should be available to host internationally renowned teams but other aspects, such as an airport capable of handling large aircrafts, are necessary. He, however, said efforts are under way to refurbish the Sir Seretse Khama airport. Mokaila said there is need for five-star hotels to cater for the contingents, such as fans and the media, traveling with the teams. Mokaila expressed happiness that efforts are under way from the private sector to construct about two five star hotels.
He said that there must be medical facilities of the highest quality and also touched on the issue of distance saying teams do not have to travel long distances to their training grounds.
The other issue the minister said needed to be taken care of is security. He said efforts have to be put in place to make sure that the visiting teams are secure.
“It is our wish to host renowned soccer heavy weights. But somehow it would be difficult if both teams require maximum security. We do not want to host teams that would not market our country; this then is a challenge on its own. But I hope if all goes well and that something will come up.”

Mokaila reminded those involved to bear in mind that it’s not only the neighbouring countries that are jostling to host the visiting teams but also some cities in South Africa are in on it too. Mokaila said there are many big cities in South Africa that would not be hosting the World Cup and they are now fighting tooth and nail to host some of the participating countries.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and Culture, Moeng Pheto, said his ministry would assist in the refurbishment of both the University of Botswana stadium and the SSKB. He said a sum of more than two million pula would be used.
In regard to the National Stadium, whose renovation plans are under National Development Plan nine, Pheto said his ministry, in collaboration with the Finance and Development Ministry, are working around the clock for the stadium to be completed by 2009. He said since there is no guarantee that the NDP 9 would be finished before 2010 they are fast-tracking the issue so that the stadium is completed on time.

However, a ruling has not yet been made by the world governing body, FIFA, on whether some countries can be based in neighbouring countries for the duration of the tournament. The issue is currently still being discussed by the Council of Sports ministers of Africa.

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