As the Francistown City Council (FCC) intensifies efforts to transform the city into an economic hub by 2022, President Ian Khama has urged the business community in the city to exploit opportunities presented by the new Francistown Sports Complex, especially in sports tourism.
Officially opening the state of the art facility last week, Khama said the sports complex should be used to promote sport tourism by hosting regional, continental and international competitions. “Premier sporting events always attract crowds either locally or from the rest of the country. In some cases visitors can come from across borders to participate or watch events. This facility therefore provides business opportunities for small and medium enterprises in this city,” he said.
Construction of the Francistown Sports Complex commenced in 2008 and was due to be completed in early 2010. Due to a number of challenges, it was only completed and handed over in July 2015. The delay was due to among others, poor construction management and poor workmanship. The stadium was built at a total cost of P300 million and it is the first of its kind in the country with a seating capacity of 26, 500.
It also boasts of among others, an athletic track, e-ticketing systems, surveillance cameras and an electronic scoreboard. Khama said the successful completion of the project is indicative of the commitment by government to utilise sport as a catalyst for economic development and diversification in the country “Sport is now a global multi-billion pula industry capable of generating wealth and employment at various levels. Sport tourism is an emerging sector which has the potential to contribute significantly to the economy,” he said. He said it is pleasing to note that the stadium has already hosted the Zebras international matches against countries such as Burkina Faso and Eretria. He also said the stadium has passed its test as it also managed to host a number of premier league games. The President added that the government recognizes the provision of high quality sport facilities as a critical element of sport development in the country.
“To this end, we will continue to prioritize construction of facilities in accordance with set locational criteria to ensure equitable access to facilities distribution throughout the country. Accessibility to sports facilities will promote mass participation in sport and recreation resulting in improved health and wellness,” he said. Khama said government adopted the Integrated Sport Facilities programme in 1998 to drive implementation of the National Sport Policy. He said this programme aims to develop facilities across the country to improve public access. He further said government has completed five sport facilities which are Lobatse, Masunga, Maun, Molepolole and Serowe. The total number of sports facilities has risen to seven including the National Stadium. The Francistown stadium, with its technical features, complies with International Federations of Football Associations (FIFA) and International Association of Athletics Federations (IAAF) requirements for staging international matches and athletics events.
“The people of Francistown and the Northern Region are therefore getting a state of the art facility that they should be proud of. I am also hopeful that you will take care of this structure,” he said. The President said that the naming of these facilities nationwide has been consistent. He and they are named after their areas of location. In conclusion he said for uniformity and consistency with the cabinet’s decision in this regard, it was concluded that the facility be named “Francistown Sports Complex.”