Gaborone – Back in 2015, Botswana stated its intention to host the 2021 Commonwealth Youth Games.
It has never been clear if the Cabinet nixed the plan or if it never really got off the ground at all.
Now, Botswana says it is getting serious about making sport a major contributor to the national GDP, and this includes hosting high-profile international events.
For starters, the country wants to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations football tourney. But the jewel in the crown will be to eventually establish the infrastructure to host a Formula One event.
In October this year, Botswana’s Sports Minister Tumiso Rakgare said a prime target was securing the rights to host the 2027 Africa Cup of Nations soccer tournament.
Some of the notable international events that Botswana hosted thus far include, among others, the 2nd Africa Youth Africa Games in 2015 and the 2017 World Youth Under-21 Netball Games.
A new sports policy that is in the works wants to build on past experiences and create a bold new future for sport in Botswana. President Mokgweetsi Masisi set the tone for the grand plan last week in his State of the Nation Address.
“The National Sport Commission Act is being reviewed to facilitate sport to contribute to the economy through commercialization and professionalism, as well to improve the welfare and the rights of our sportspersons,” he said.
According to President Masisi, the review is targeted for completion by March 2021.
Sharing the same sentiment with President Masisi that the country required a comprehensive sport policy, the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at aligning strategies.
The two sports administration bodies’ mandate is to provide guidance on sport development and promotion as well as taking responsibility and leadership in the process for hosting regional and international competitions.
Some of the objectives of the agreement are to align strategies for the BNSC Vision 2028 and the BNOC Strategic Plan (2017-2020) to ensure common vision and aligned targets. They also intend to streamline sport development through merging the BNSC's Sport Development Committee and the BNOC's High Performance Committee into one structure.
The objectives of the agreement are also aimed at standardizing and registering patents for uniform, developing and implementing a generic policy governing athletes' scholarship and/or programs as well as developing a tier system for sport in Botswana
Speaking at the MoU signing ceremony in Gaborone recently, BNSC chairperson Marumo Morule said the agreement would help guide the two organisations and ensure that athletes and those that supported them had a friendly environment to excel.
“If we are to continue with our fragmented efforts, I can assure you that the five gold medals we would like to attain by 2028 will remain all but a pipe dream. In the last few years, we have been collaboratively organising the annual sport science and coaches symposium. The two organisations jointly facilitated Botswana’s preparation and competition at the 2019 African Games,” he said.