Botswana Games kick-start, BISA feel side-lined
The much awaited 4th edition of the Botswana Games billed for the second capital city, Francistown, will officially start next week amid mumbles by some stakeholders as they lament they were rendered spectators in the preparations of the game despite being custodians of the athletes.
So far, according to the organisers, everything has been finalised with the issue of accreditation of volunteers being the only thing left behind, but the expectation was they should be finalised before the end of this week. “We have done everything especially accrediting the athletes as well as the team officials and again we are very hopeful that our volunteers’ accreditation will be finalised this week. Another thing is we are awaiting the release of officials from their respective codes as we have long sent the request of personnel the expectation is they will be released soon, and I must also add that all the regions have been cooperative to us as we prepare for the games and we are thankful to that,” Bobby Gaseitsiwe, the Chairperson of the Local Organising Committee told WeekendSport.
Meanwhile, close to 600 volunteers are already going under rigorous training at Gerald Estates as they finalise their rehearsals. While the teams will be based in various locations like Tonota,
Borolong and Francistown and again with the Spaghetti road still under construction, is the LOC aware of any delays from teams? “One of the developments we came up with is lodging will be done per the code not per team as it has been the case,” Gaseitsiwe said, this means areas like Shashe Senior will be occupied by indoor codes like badminton while football and athletics will be located closer to the Francistown Sports Complex to avoid late comings by other teams which could be located far. This has received warm welcome from various stakeholders as it is necessary especially the traffic congestion emanating from road construction” he revealed.
The multisport games will start on the 5th to the 13th of December and the event will see 16 regions locking horns in a bid to emerge victorious in 13 sporting codes. For the past three editions, Gaborone has been defending the tittle and it remains to be seen whether the host will lose in their city soil.
BISA LAMENTS SIDELINEMENT
However, the Botswana Integrated Sports Association (BISA) has decried that despite being the custodians of the athletes they were not taken on board as the preparations for the games were unfolding. The BISA statement follows other remarks by the Ghetto dwellers who felt they are also spectators as some few only own the games. “We seem to be side-lined though I think we should be taken on board because they are our students, right now preparations are at an advanced stage such that even the invitation to the games we received it just recently, BISA President Joshua Gaothobogwe said. In defence of the games, Gaseitsiwe said “Actually that’s not true we have engaged everyone in the games but the unfortunate thing is we can’t include everyone but we have been taking from here and there.”
There were arguments in the past that Botswana Games be organised by BISA while the Re Ba Bona Ha programme be administered by the Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) but that has since become a far-fetched dream.
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AFRICA’S RECOVERY: Sports as game changer
The year 2022 witnessed unprecedented phenomena. Several Africans- Gotytom Gebreslase, Sharon Lokedi, Victor Kiplangat, Tamarit Tola and many others- swept the World’s marathons records.
However, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the resulting control measures implemented in several countries, led to many high-level sports competitions being cancelled or shelved, the Dakar 2022 Youth Olympic Games was moved to 2026.
Founder and Executive Chairman, African Sports and Creative Institute, Will Mabiakop, says the inability to hold traditional and amateur sports events have had a serious effect on public health overall, including mental health, sparking a revolution whereby athletes began to talk more openly about stress, mental overload and performance anxiety.
“Africa is home to the fastest growing economies before the crisis, no longer on track to meet the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). COVID-19 deepened interdependence between SDGs, making them harder to achieve, especially SDG 10 (reducing inequality) and SDG 5 (gender equality_ as the pandemic had a disproportionate impact on poorer countries, and heavier burdens (such as care work) fell to women.”
Mabiakop stresses that as policymakers contemplate actions to speed up recovery and build resilience, they must argue that sports and creative businesses should play a central feature in this effort.
“The sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africa’s sports and creative industries can offer policymakers innovative solutions. Especially, as regards job creation, and providing employment to the 15 million people entering the job market annually.”
HOW CAN THE INDUSTRY DO THIS?
By leveraging the two-for-one concept: past studies shown that a 1% growth in the economy delivers a 2% job increment in this sector (these ratios are calculated using data from 48 African countries and adjusted to the reality of the sports economy in Africa by the authors). There are between 30 and 50 job types, in sports and creative industries, respectively. These jobs do not fade away with the first major shock.
Mabiakop indicated that policymakers can use these industries to tackle multiple crises- jobs, poverty, and climate risks. Sports diplomacy- defined as communication, representation and negotiation in or through the prism of sports- has proven effective in building inclusive and cohesive societies. Moreover, sports and the creative industry can support better mental health and well-being, both important for productivity.
“Policymakers can also be true to the game by leveraging culture and tradition to celebrate identity and reap commercial value in sports, textiles and jewelry. Creative sectors allow deeper connection with culture, are not easily copied and provide great economic potential.”
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. “Fortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.”
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. “First avoid build it and they will come policies with infrastructures denuded from the rest of the ecosystem. Like the many sports stadiums left largely unused.”
“Policymakers must remain mindful of how these sectors move the needle in human capital development. Also, align the requisite public policies needed for progress from grassroots participation to professional sports, and even to international sporting events. They should also support investment instruments to render these sectors performant.”