A three-man Coordinating Commission of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) is expected in the country sometime in May to assess the country’s readiness to host the 2nd African Youth Games.
This follows the country’s bid to host the games, which are slated for 2014. Should the Commission be impressed by the country’s facilities, the games will be the biggest the country has ever hosted.
Speaking in an interview, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), Tuelo Serufho, said the country has a great chance of winning the bid to host the games.
“At this moment, I can say that the games are ours to lose. Though there are countries that did bid to host the games, we are the only country that met the bidding deadline and if we can meet the required criteria, we have a chance of winning the host status for the games,” Serufho said.
He said that he is optimistic that the country has all that is needed to impress the Coordinating Commission and host the games.
Serufho, who led the country’s bid, says his optimism stems from the rave reviews the country received following their presentation on the country’s readiness to host the showpiece.
As a country, we cannot say we have the best facilities in the continent, but we are certain we have some good facilities. I believe the commission will be impressed by the facilities we have in this country. Our government has invested a lot in facilities and it is now time to use them,” he said.
Serufho says, with the country having successfully hosted a number of games, though not of the magnitude of the Africa Youth Games, there can be no doubt that the country has the capability of hosting the games. While there will be less than two years remaining for the country to prepare should it be granted the host status, the BNOC CEO says the task would not be very daunting as there would not be a need to build facilities.
On what the country stands to benefit from hosting the games of this magnitude, the BNOC says Botswana stands to benefit a lot both on and off the sporting fields should they be awarded the bid.
Sporting wise, Serufho says hosting the games will give young Batswana a platform to actively engage in sports. He says this will be done through a legacy programme, which will be aimed specifically at the youth to play sport.
Apart from this, the BNOC CEO says by hosting the event, Botswana will benefit from a lot of goodwill from other countries as well as ANOCA.
“If we win the bid, Germany has promised to send us an expert to work with the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) ahead of the games as well as to donate equipment. The United States of America has also promised to help as have other Olympic Committees who have promised to help. The body that oversees canoeing has also promised that should the code be catered for, they will donate canoeing equipment as well as send us experts to train locals on canoeing,” said Serufho.
He added that while the government will be expected to put money into the games, there will also be money that ANOCA will put through to help host the games.
Off the field of play, the BNOC CEO says part of the bid’s idea is to let visitors during the games to sample the country’s tourism.
“Our aim is not just to promote sports in the country, but also to promote the country. Engagements with various stakeholders as well as institutions are ongoing to see how we can work together to promote the country during the games,” he said.
Serufho, however, lamented the lack of having a system in place to quantify the benefits accrued from hosting major events in the country, saying this will make it hard to gauge how much hosting major sporting events can benefit the country.