BAA’s P2 billion sports facility delayed
Despite the overzealous promises made by the President of Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) Moses Bantsi earlier this year, the association’s P2 billion sports city project is yet to commence.
At the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) in February, Bantsi promised affiliates that the mega project, to be built in Tlokweng would be underway by now. “By mid-April, the ground breaking would be done with the expectation that by July 2015 the construction would have started.’’ The assurance was made following threats from the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) to repossess the land if BAA failed to develop.
Bantsi had gone on to maintain that they were not anticipating any holdups from any of their stakeholders as the donation was for a stipulated period. However, WeekendSport has been informed that the current bottleneck could be the result of reluctance from the touted un-named American financer as they have not yet met with BAA top brass to commit on paper that they will fund the project.
It is said the agreement was made verbally therefore nothing is compelling the financer to hurry. The project proposal was initially P300 million but it was upped to P2 billion to include other sporting codes following the donors request because the initial one “looked like a not so ambitious way of request.’’
Nonetheless, at the said AGM there were some affiliates who were skeptical with the project more-especially that the President refused to reveal the name of the funder. Affiliates, particularly from the northern block argue that this was a political gimmick for Bantsi to buy votes.
Within the BAA executive they are very careful not to let the cat out of the bag as the members are tight-lipped to divulge anything, but they have painted a picture of a committee in disarray on the matter as they often give answers which are contradictory.
This writer engaged a number of them on this matter but they failed to convincingly answer the questions, but the mouthpiece, Roland Masalila also made a vain cover-up to arrest the matter. “We will tell you next week about what caused the delay, for now the committee responsible with that is still sorting some things,’’ the diplomatic Masalila said. The said committee responsible for the fundraising of the project is made by among others Bantsi and the treasure Brian Mosweu who both declined to comment.
In fact, Bantsi when contacted he irritably answered, “you have already talked to the PRO, now what do you want me to talk about.’’
The association despite skating on thin ice is resolute that the project will proceed as per the plan, but only after they “sort out things”. Among others the facility is expected to have a five-star hotel, BAA head office with accommodation, administration offices, the main stadium to accommodate other sport codes, indoor sporting facility and conference center.
According to BAA media liaison, Masalila, BAA has briefed their principal being BNSC about the postponement. “We did inform them that we are still fine tuning other things.’’ However he could not share with this publication the response they received from the sports commission because there have been reports that the sports body is irked by the snail pace of plot development in spite of the last year’s agreement.
Efforts to contact the BNSC CEO Thato Kgosimore hit a brick wall as he was said to be in a series of meetings on Wednesday and Thursday and his mobile phone rang unanswered.
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AFRICAâ€™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 Worldâ€™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.
â€śAfrica 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.â€ť
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.
â€śThe sports economy worldwide is estimated at 5% of GDP, but only 0.5% in Africa. If exploited, Africaâ€™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.â€ť
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.
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť
He said supporting grassroots sports has powerful distributional effects. â€śFortunately, technology has made reaching wide audiences easier, generating higher rates of success when talent is discovered.â€ť
However, Mabiakop held that potential pitfalls must be highlighted. â€śFirst 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.â€ť
â€śPolicymakers 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.â€ť