Ruth Maphorisa, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture, has said that Sport Tourism should be counted amongst the key initiatives in Botswana’s drive to economic diversification.
Maphorisa was addressing a multi-national crowd at the closing ceremony for the International Cricket Council (ICC)’s World Cup League Division 7, a week-long event that took place on Botswana soil.
The Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) hosted national cricket teams from Germany, Kuwait, Nigeria, Norway and Japan during the Division 7 tournament competitions.
“I have every confidence in the fact that sports can sell the country, and I believe that the ministry responsible for the economic diversification should consider sports as one of the main attractions to investors,” said Maphorisa.
Maphorisa said that the Cricket World Cup league was proof that sport tourism was fast becoming a reality in Botswana. She pointed out that, BEDIA, the corporation responsible for bringing in outside investors, has never accomplished at one go, what sports has in terms of attracting investors from outside the country. She said that the public should rest assured in the knowledge that government is committed to developing sports.
“I also want to warn football that they should watch out for cricket, the successful running of the Division 7 tournament is today a testimony of how cricket is making inroads in Botswana. What I find especially impressive is the implementation of their grassroots project and how it’s being run,” said Maphorisa.
Maphorisa also mentioned the fact that the Lobatse Stadium, although officially opened on the 5th of April, was not 100 percent ready for use but the BCA volunteered manpower to ready the pitch for use in the first game of the tournament.
She said that when she first heard that the BCA planned to have their first match at the Lobatse grounds, she thought it was a joke because of the condition the cricket field was still under.
She congratulated the BCA for the work they put into making sure the field was ready for the World Cup league.
“The BCA has not only made us proud but they have also put us on the map as a country; we have never hosted a tournament of such nature. Although we didn’t win the league, this shouldn’t be regarded as a loss but should be considered as capacity building.”