BNSC yet to finalise budget for ASUC games

• Confirms that the country will take part in regional biennial games in December • Botswana Games to be held early this year to make way for the AUSC Games • Lesotho Games considered a prelude to Ghana 2023 and Paris 2024

BNSC yet to finalise budget for ASUC games
(Pic: MONIRUL BHUIYAN/PRESS PHOTO)

Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) is yet to determine how much will be spent on the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games which are billed for Maseru, Lesotho in December, The Business Weekly Sports has established.

Formerly known as the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone V Games, the AUSC Games were originally scheduled for 4 to 13 December 2020 in Maseru before the COVID-19 pandemic brought all sports to a screeching halt. The Games are now scheduled to run from 3 to 12 December 2021 in Maseru, Lesotho’s capital and the country’s largest city that is located on the Caledon River.

“We are yet to hear how much is devoted to us for the 2021/2022 financial year on the basis of which we would know how much we can budget for the Games,” said the Acting CEO of BNSC, Tuelo Serufho, in an interview. “But this notwithstanding, we are optimistic that the government will avail some level of resource for the Games.”

The AUSC Games, which take place on a biennial basis, target athletes under the age of 20 from sporting codes like athletics, football and netball. Asked about selection of a team fit for the Games considering that sporting activities have been suspended since last year, Serufho said the selection will be based on merit.

“The team we will send is the one that will be selected through a modified model of Botswana Games that we are planning,” Serufho said. “As you may recall, we were to host Botswana Games this year in December. However, as a result of the many changes occasioned by the pandemic as well as AUSC Games, we can’t have the Games in that period. As such, we are defining a modified Botswana Games that will not only happen earlier than the usual period but will also allow us to select athletes in this current environment and allow them to prepare.”

Botswana finished third during the 2018 AUSC Games which were held in Gaborone, collecting a tally of 69 medals that included 12 gold medals.

Meanwhile, the AUSC Region CEO Stanley Mutoya has said in making the decision to proceed with the Games, the AUSC Troika considered a number of elements. “Key among these elements was the fact that the Government of Lesotho’s Cabinet had approved the hosting of the rescheduled Games in December 2021,” he said in an AUSC statement released on Tuesday this week.

Mutoya added that the Troika was pleased with progress made by the Region 5 Secretariat in developing COVID-19 protocol guidelines in consultation with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international stakeholders. “These guidelines will go a long way in ensuring hosting of safe and secure Games in Maseru and beyond,” he said. “The fact that most countries of the Region are at various stages of a phased return to sports added to the Troika’s confidence in pronouncing the Region’s readiness to resume preparations to host the biennial Games.”

Mutoya went on to note that the resumption of the Games brings a glimmer of hope to recovery of athletes’ careers because these Games have a direct impact on their performance pathways. “The 9th edition of the Region 5 Youth Games have a special significance in that they are designed to prepare athletes for Malawi 2022 Region 5 Games from where athletes to participate in the Ghana 2023 Africa Games will emerge,” he said. “It is from Ghana 2023 that athletes are expected to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympic and Paralympic Games. So the Lesotho Games become a conduit for Olympic and Paralympic excellence. We may as well call these Lesotho Games Paris via Accra with a Stop-Over in Lilongwe.”

The Region 5 Games have grown to become a key development component and springboard for athletes. Several athletes have passed through these Games, key among the gallery of notable icons being Wayde Van Niekerk (South Africa), Nigel Amos and Naomi Ruele (Botswana).