BNOC readies local athletes for CYG
Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BNOC, Tuelo Serufho
With various countries across the globe already gearing up for the fifth (Vth) Commonwealth Youth Games (CYG), the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has also started to ready local athletes to compete at the five day pièce de résistance.
The multi-sport event which is expected to pull 1000 young athletes aged 14-18 will be held at the pacific Island nation of Samoa from 5-11th of September however the local athletes are not aiming for any particular medal or position.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the BNOC, Tuelo Serufho the local contingent will be made up by a total of 11 athletes from the three sporting codes of athletics, Boxing and swimming.
“We had space to include another athlete from any code but we increased athletics participants because we wanted those who had potential looking at their performance,’’ he said when asked why only three codes were to be represented at the games.
Majority of the team members are said to already be on camp, with the athletics team based at Oasis Motel. The boxing and swimming teams have already begun training, especially because public schools are closed.
Serufho said the Ministry of Youth Sport and Culture has availed P2.2 million to be used for the preparations and meet other areas of demands like the attire as well as transporting other athletes since the Commonwealth Games Federation (CGF) will provide transit for only six members.
The games which are regarded as the springboard to stardom for the sporting greenhorns after the likes of Nigel Amos, Leungo Matlhaku and Naomi Ruele passed through them is expected will produce another group that will go on do well in future.
This year’s competition will be the third for Botswana to compete at after taking part in 2008 at Pune, India and in 2011’s Isle of Man games. BNOC has never set the young athletes any targets but they have managed to bring two medals consecutively at the said competitions.
“The same thing applies even this year as we don’t want to put them under any pressure, what we only want is for them to gain exposure and experience so that when we demand results at Commonwealth Games one day they will be ready,” stated the CEO.
The team that will be launched on Tuesday is expected to include some celebrated emerging athletes like Thabiso Sekgopi, Karabo Sibanda and Baboloki Thebe in athletics while the likes of Mohamed Otukile is expected to make the cut in boxing.
With the preparations already in full swing, one would wonder if enough is being done to address the hot issue of doping. According to Serufho, “We give them education during camps like what we are doing right now; the anti-doping agent visits them regularly and also there are regular random tests done on athletes.”
BOTSWANA BID TO HOST 2021 CYG
Meanwhile Botswana has expressed interest in hosting the next games. The BNOC holds that by hosting the games, the country would be opening itself up to the prospect of hosting other international competitions. Serufho confirmed to Weekend Sport that they are interested in hosting the 2021 games. “We did express interest and we have already submitted the budget to the government we are only awaiting their blessings then we can submit the bid at the end of September,” he said.
The Francistown born CEO, said last year’s Africa Youth Games (AYG) were an eye opener and they have gained hosting experience through them. While he conceded that they had not hosted any international games, he was hopeful that the world dance competitions and the 2017 U-18 Netball cup would further impart to them some experience.
In terms of the facilities Serufho said, “Now we have amenities like the UB indoor facility and two tracks in UB and the national stadium, besides, unlike the AYG which had 21 sports the CYG has only 10 so we can easily pull it off.”
BNOC SUPPORT SA’s DURBAN 2022 COMMONWEALTH BID
Meanwhile, South Africa is the only country that has expressed interest in hosting the 2022 Commonwealth Games, and BNOC is fully rallying behind them. In the past weeks SA convened a meeting asking for support from their continental and Asian counterparts and BNOC has expressed that they fully support them. Serufho who attended the meeting said “South Africa has facilities and they have experience in hosting plus their weather in Durban is also fantastic so I believe they can host the games.”
Botswana would indirectly benefit, should SA win the bid to host. “The teams will arrive early to acclimatize and they might camp here, this would help us to have some preparatory games also,” he concluded.
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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.
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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.”
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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.”
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