For most countries it takes two to four years to prepare for international sports competitions like Commonwealth Games, Olympics and other high profile competitions. Botswana will have no such luxury. The announcement made on Tuesday that Botswana will host the 2nd African Youth Games means that all stakeholders including government and the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) have to hit the ground running.
There is hardly time to celebrate, as there is less than 14 months to host athletes from 53 countries, a logistical nightmare if one is not prepared. After playing his cards close to the chest on whether Botswana had won the rights to host, BNOC Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho is well aware that the next 12 months will be very busy for his Committee.
Speaking to BG Sport this week, Serufho said they had since set the wheels in motion before the President of the Association of National Olympic Committees of Africa (ANOCA) Lassana Palenfo made the announcement. Serufho revealed that they have engaged the services of the American Olympic Committee to help the BNOC on issues of logistics.
They will this April send an expert on games management to come and meet the Local Organising Committee (LOC). This is not all the BNOC is doing to ensure that the games are a success. Serufho also revealed that they have asked German Olympic Committee to help with a transport expert who will help with the issue of traffic.
He explained that Germany held the Olympic Games in 1972 and this resulted in the their city having an advance transport system that was rolled out to other cities in the country. “Botswana has been given limited time to prepare for the games but we will not be building new facilities, we will improve and work with facilities we already have,” he said.
The BNOC boss gave an example of the indoor sports facility that is currently under construction at the University of Botswana. He also added that water sports like canoeing and swimming have also been catered for. Speaking in Gaborone after the historic announcement on Tuesday, ANOCA President said the organisation of the African Youth Games should impact positively on the entire city of Gaborone and its citizens.
“The associated urban, economic, social and environmental development require full cooperation of local and national government as well as commercial partners and all members of the Olympic movement,” he said. Speaking at the same occasion, the Minister of Youth Sports and Culture Shaw Kgathi said Botswana was committed to developing young people through sports, adding that the Africa Youth Games will create opportunities for young people in the country.
“Around 53 countries will take part in these games which are qualifiers for the Youth Olympic games,” he said. The minister of Sports said international sponsors will be interested in the games and his ministry was happy to start the count down .