The National Stadium in Gaborone will host the single biggest athletic event in the country to date – the Botswana Golden Grand Prix on April 29th.
The event is one of the only two World Athletics Continental Tour Gold events approved to be hosted on the African continent. It is the only event of its magnitude to be held in the Southern tip of Africa. The other continental golden event is the Kip Keino Classic in Kenya.
For this event alone, Batswana will for the first time get to see the best athletes in the world competing here in the country. Already, there are reports that some well-known Jamaican and Canadian athletes will be in the mix. As will be the continent’s top athletes.
Given the magnitude of the event, the country will likely attract a sizeable number of spectators from abroad, and more especially from its neighbouring countries. Despite this, the event organisers are still finding it hard to attract sponsors.
Botswana Golden Grand Prix’s Public Relations Officer (PRO) Calistus Kolantsho says the whole one day event requires a cash injection of P8 million. With only two months to go, their account still stands at just around P2. 1 million.
“The Government, through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development (MYSC), is assisting the event with P1.2 million while the World Athletics has financed us with US$65, 000 so far,” Kolantsho says.
Now as the time ticks, organisers are still racing to secure more sponsors.
“We are working around the clock to secure sponsorship. We have submitted proposals to different companies and some are promising as talks are at an advanced stage. We are happy that monies from MYSC will assist with prize money which was just approved by World Athletics and also appearance fees, the US$65, 000 from World Athletics will be used for preparations,” the event PRO says.
For the organisers of the event, they know their struggle to find sponsors was to be expected. Kolantsho says sport generally struggles to secure sponsorship. This is across the board. He believes this now perhaps calls for a new approach in marketing and advertising to make sport more attractive to potential sponsors.
“Sponsorship has become one of the main sources of the investment required by sport. This being the case, we should never forget the issue of return on investment from sponsors, being ‘what is in it for us’? This is the golden question from companies and the question that may win us the sponsorship or not. We have done great work so far and we believe we will surely host yet again an amazing event through working together with Batswana and organisations,” Kolantsho states.
Irrespective of what happens, there is a great belief among the organisers that the event will take place as expected. Organisers are adamant that they will pay athletes as promised. A breakdown of prize money has already been released. Meanwhile, women will compete in the 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m races, long jump and short put. Men’s programme on the other hand will include 100m, 200m, 400m, 800m, 3000SC, 400m hurdles races, long jump and short put.