The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) says Botswana is ready to host the second edition of the African Youth Games in 2014.
The event, which is sanctioned by the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA), was first held in Morocco last year. Speaking in an interview, BNOC Chief Executive Officer, Tuelo Serufho, said the BNOC has already expressed interest to host the event and is currently waiting for the Botswana Government’s backing to go ahead with the bid to host the event.
He says BNOC, which expressed interest in hosting the showpiece earlier this year, handed in their request for backing from the government last month. The closing date for the bid to be handed to ANOCA is the end of next month, the time by which the government is expected to have given the BNOC a go ahead if they are to continue with their bid.
Despite the short time remaining before the bidding closes, Serufho says they are not worried about time as they have worked hard ever since expressing their interest to ensure that everything will be in order before the given time.
He says they have already compiled all the material needed to make their bid book and all that is left will be to put it in an acceptable format should the government give them a go ahead.
“We have already submitted our proposal and we also have drawn a very comprehensive budget that we believe can help us successfully host the event,” the BNOC CEO said. “Botswana has facilities, most of which are not adequately used and if we host the event we will be able to use them,” Serufho added.
He says should the country bid and be successful in getting the games and hosting them, doors will be open for the country to host even more major games, something which will leave a long lasting legacy in the country, both on the sporting and economical front.
“On the sporting front, hosting games of this magnitude will inculcate among our youth the spirit of participating and competing in sports. It will encourage them to take sport seriously,” Serufho said.
Further, he says the country will have to refurbish its sporting infrastructure, which can then be used in hosting local events like the Botswana games.
“Also, hosting games like these attracts lots of sympathy for hosts from sporting federations. In the process, they help the hosts with equipment, which can be used long after the games are finished as well as helping with coaches to train local athletes, which can benefit the country’s young athletes,” he added. “Secondly, hosting big games can transform host cities as they help fast track developments. If you host, you invest in your transport system and accommodation facilities and these developments are permanent,” Serufho continued. “Lastly, it will boost our economy and tourism as people will come into the country and consume our products. If we do things correctly and hospitably host people who come into the country during the games, they can always come back and even go on to tell others good things about the country, which will ensure that we attract more tourists in the future,” he said.
On whether the country can solely afford to shoulder the financial responsibilities of hosting the event, more so as it is emerging from the financial meltdown, the BNOC CEO said the benefits of hosting the event will far outweigh the country’s expenditures.
“For starters, we won’t be building new facilities; we will just refurbish them as they are already of international standard. Also, mother bodies like ANOCA and the International Olympic Committee (IOC) inject some money to help the hosts in their preparations which lightens the hosts’ financial burden. Then we have sponsors and partners who also inject money and other assistance into the preparations. Apart from that, we will have people coming into the country and spending their monies here,” he said.
The African Youth Games, which are held three months before the Youth Olympic Games, are used by the African youths to rehearse for the event and attract athletes from across the continent.