Sunday, May 29, 2022

Botswana’s Afcon 2027 with Namibia gains traction

Botswana and Namibia’s bid to co-host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) is gaining traction. According to sources, the two neighbours’ proposal has garnered some support from African football leaders.

This past week, a delegation from both countries was in Cameroon to lobby for support. Botswana’s delegation, which had Botswana Football Association (BFA) president Maclean Letshwiti as a facilitator, was led by the Minister of Sports Tumiso Rakgare, Deputy Permanent Secretary in the Ministry Bruno Paledi and Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho.

The news of positive support from African football leaders is likely to strengthen the resolve of Botswana. As a show of intent, the country’s Minister of Finance Peggy Serame announced during the recent budget speech this past week that monies had been set aside to undertake a feasibility study of hosting the continent’s biggest football showpiece.

“The reception of our proposal with Namibia to jointly bid for Afcon was warmly received. People were thrilled by the intent of two small Southern African nations seeking to host such an event,” Serufho said in an interview.

According to the BNSC CEO, many who had enjoyed sport outside football even referenced to the previous events successfully hosted by both countries as a reference point to their capabilities to host.

During their stay in Cameroon, the delegation is said to have met ‘numerous CAF stakeholders as the rights holder and owners of the Afcon games.’ In all the meetings, the BFA president, who is also a CAF board member was available as a facilitator.

Speaking in an interview, Serufho said the delegation’s intent when going to the Afcon games went beyond just lobbying for support. “We wanted to experience Afcon from the point of someone wishing to host,” he explained.

“Experiencing Afcon as someone intent is a different ball game. We had to go behind the scenes to understand every minute detail and to understand what it took to host games as big as Afcon,” the BNSC CEO said.

Serufho said another aim was to talk to those who are experienced in hosting the event to exchange notes, which he said they successfully managed. It also gave them access to all stakeholders to share contacts for future advice or to lobby them.

“Most importantly, we went there to alert stakeholder of our intent to jointly host Afcon and see how receptive they are to the idea. We are happy that while we are yet to make our official bid, our proposal was very well received.”

Meanwhile, the BNSC CEO said stadiums aside, both Botswana and Namibia have the necessary infrastructure to host the African football showpiece. “We also have political stability which makes our joint bid very exciting,” he added.

With the Botswana government already having shown political will to host, the BNSC CEO expressed optimism that the Namibian government will also approve of the joint bid when it meets on the 17th of this month.

Should the two countries’ bid be accepted, there is hope it will go a long way to boost their economies through temporary employment through infrastructural development as well as hospitality and tourism.

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