The 2015 Botswana Games set off this weekend in Francistown where about 2607 athletes from the country’s sporting districts are expected to slug it out for national honours in about 13 sporting disciplines.
Despite aspersions cast on the games over recent months, the Games’ organisers maintain that all is well and that all systems are in place to get the ball rolling. The district team’s event was introduced by Botswana government in 2007, for athletes under the age of 19 to aid with their development and to prepare them for the bigger multi-sport events such as the Commonwealth Games, All Africa Games and Olympics among others. The biennial event was then played in 2009 and 2011 while the 2013 edition was set aside to channel funds towards the African Youth Games played last year.
The 4th Botswana Games will also attract 265 technical officials and 500 volunteers according to the Games’ organising committee chairperson Bobby Gaseitsiwe. He told BG Sport that unlike in the previous editions, they have this year employed a new qualification criteria to get only the best athletes from each district. “You should understand that the Botswana Games model is for talent identification for youth athletes under 19 years of age,” he said.
Gaseitsiwe said the games would be played in Francistown and surrounding villages including Tonota and Shashe. “Badminton and boxing will be played at Shashe while softball and chess will be played in Tonota. Football will be played at the old Francistown Stadium, while mainstream athletics and athletics for the visually impaired will be staged at the Francistown Sports Complex,” Gaseitsiwe explained.
He added that Basketball was set for Donga courts, swimming for Clifton Primary School, karate at the Francistown City Council (FCC) hall while netball and volleyball will be played at the Francistown College of Technical and Vocational Education (FCTVE). He explained the sticky question of what is used to determine which district teams an individual can play for. “The athletes who compete in these games are chosen according to where they are based or where they reside at the time of the games,” he said, adding that if athletes originate from a village like Etsha 6, and go to Goodhope Senior Secondary School, then the expectation is that such individuals will play in the district where the school is. Gaseitsiwe dismissed talk of poor preparations and lack of readiness, saying issues of accommodation shortage in Francistown were false.
“The accommodation has been sorted out and it is in way that each sport code will be based in the area of their playing venue,” he said. Moreover, Gaseitsiwe expressed satisfaction with the logistics surrounding the games. He added: “We only had minor hiccups with the registration of volunteers but this has since been resolved.” The closing ceremony of the games will be on the Saturday of December 12.