Botswana is ready to host the Africa Cup Division 1C tournament. The six nations tournament, which serves as the preliminary qualifiers for the 2014 Rugby World Cup is slated for Gaborone this coming weekend.
Speaking in an interview with Sunday Standard Sport, the Chairperson of the tournament’s Local Organising Committee (LOC), Vincent Mashaya, said preparations for the games are at ‘a very advanced stage.’ According to Mashaya, more than 80 percent of all the preparations are done and only ‘the small nitty-gritties are left.’
“We have already secured the accommodations for both the players and officials and the field that is to host the tournament has also been secured and paid for,” the LOC Chairperson said.
Mashaya said with everything now almost done, the country is now only waiting for the five national teams of Cameroon, Nigeria, Ivory Coast, Mauritius and Zambia that are to play against hosts Botswana to arrive. “Apart from Nigeria and Ivory Coast teams that needed visas to enter the country, it was easier for all teams to arrange their passage into Botswana. Fortunately for the two teams, we were able to help them get their visas and all teams are now ready to come. We expect all the teams to arrive here on Friday,” Mashaya said.
While it’s now all systems go for the country to host the tournament, the LOC Chairperson says it has not been plain sailing for his committee to organize the tournament. With rugby not being one of the most popular sports in the country, Mashaya said the LOC has had a tough time trying to find sponsors for the tournament.
“Our budget for the tournament was 1,5 million pula and we fell short of raising the money. We managed to only find slightly more than half of the required money and we had a significant short fall. Fortunately for us, we have had companies and individuals who have sponsored us in kind and this has covered some of the necessities and reduced the costs,” the LOC Chairperson explained.
The money, according to Mashaya was received from sponsors such as the Confederation of African Rugby (CAR), the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) and the local Financial Services provider, Blue. Both the CAR and BNSC have provided the bulk of the money, with the CAR giving more.
“The CAR contributes at least 59 000 US dollars (+- P 457 364) and they have already given us 90 percent of the money with the remaining money to be given later. The BNSC on the other hand has given us P350 000,” the LOC Chairperson said.
Meanwhile, the LOC Chairperson has expressed confidence that the University of Botswana (UB) Stadium, which has been designated as the tournament’s hosting stadium, will be more than ready to host the games. “The stadium has been closed to allow it to recover and we are confident that it will be more than ready come kick off day,” Mashaya said. He said with the games arranged in such a way that there is a two day rest before games, it is expected that the stadium will not be in a bad state during the course of the whole tournament. The tournament is expected to kick off on the 22nd of this month and to finish on the 28th.
The winner of the tournament will proceed to the next round of qualifiers which are expected to be held sometimes next year.