There will be more than just national pride at stake when Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) hosts the 10th edition of the Africa Junior Championships in May next year.
Besides the exposure that the event will give to the country’s athletes, Botswana stands to win accolades if she successfully hosts the event.
Speaking to Standard Sport after the launch of the championships’ Local Organizing Committee (LOC), BAA President Moses Bantsi said hosting the event successfully will put Botswana in a better place to host bigger and prestigious events in future. Bantsi Botswana will also stand a chance to acquire its own high performance centre courtesy of the International Athletics Associations Federation.
Bantsi said they have requested the IAAF to build them a high performance centre, and the request has been partially approved. This was motivated by the improved performance of Botswana athletes after they were sent to the high performance centre in Senegal.
“We were told that we will stand a better chance of obtaining the high performance centre if we successfully host the championships” said Bantsi.
Bantsi said they started preparing the bid to host the championships in 2008, and they successfully beat powerhouses like Egypt and Algeria.
“A couple of years back when Guinea failed to host the championships, we were requested to come to the rescue. We could not host at the time as we were not ready. That showed that the athletics community has faith in us, and we took the cue and made a bid for this upcoming championship,” said Bantsi.
He said the exceptional performance of local athletes in international competitions also provided enough currency to garner them the necessary support to host the event. Bantsi also praised the Southern African Athletics Associations for supporting Botswana’s bid, saying it was very instrumental in securing the bid.
BAA’s bid was based on the availability of the newly refurbished National Stadium.
Besides putting Botswana sports on the international map, hosting the championships will also advertise the country to the world and put it in a better place to host other sporting events in future. Bantsi said BAA will use the opportunity to give international exposure to as many as 50 young athletes.
“The tournament will also help us identify potential athletes who can be groomed for the London 2012 Olympics and beyond” said Bantsi.
When officially launching the LOC, the acting Director of Sports and Recreation, Kesolofetse Phethu, said Botswana has made tremendous strides and is ready to host world class games. She said government intends to build more world class sports facilities to complement the refurbished National Stadium and the newly built Lobatse and Francistown Sports Complexes.
The LOC is made up of Solly Reikeletseng (Chairperson), Dickson Gabanakgosi (Chairperson ÔÇô Protocol), Dorcus Montlane (Chairperson ÔÇô Logistics), Tebatso Hule (Communications Coordinator), Reuben Raj Rathedi (Chairperson ÔÇô Technical), Phemelo Matome (Chairperson ÔÇô Publications and Promotions), Bobby Gaseitsiwe (Chairperson ÔÇô Competition Director) and Kefilwe Ramphaleng (Committee Secretary).
In his acceptance speech Reikeletseng said the LOC views the championship as an opportunity to showcase Botswana’s hospitality, business and tourism industry. He said the LOC has already developed a brand identity and theme for the games which has been forwarded to BAA for approval. Once approved, the brand will be officially launched.
Reikeletseng also said they are in the process of approaching potential partners to ensure that there are adequate resources to successfully host the games.