The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) will spend P12.5 million on the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games which are billed for Maseru, Lesotho in December 2021, this publication has established.
According to the CEO of BNSC, Tuelo Serufho, the money will be used to prepare Team Botswana for the Games, allowances and travel logistics, among other things. Serufho explained to journalists this week that BNSC has set a cap of 177 athletes to be selected from Athletics, Athletics for the Visually Impaired, Basketball, Boxing, Football, Judo, Netball, Swimming, Taekwondo, Tennis and Volleyball.
He emphasised that to feature on the list, each sporting code will have to demonstrate that it has plans for Team Botswana beyond Maseru. “We are now moving away from an era where regional games are an end or a project in themselves to one in which regional games are part of a long-term project for success at the international level,” he said.
“This way, it would not be as if we are starting from scratch every time we prepare for major competitions such as the Olympic Games, the World Championships, the Commonwealth Games and the African Games. This way, every thebe that we spend on team preparations will take us further than it did in the past and we can expect our results to get better.”
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 for 3 to 12 December 2021 in Maseru, the capital city of Lesotho that hugs the Caledon River.
The AUSC Games, which takes place on a biennial basis, target athletes under the age of 20. Botswana finished third at the 2018 AUSC Games which were held in Gaborone, ‘hoarding’ a tally of 69 medals, including 12 golds.
The Region 5 Games have grown to become a key development component and springboard for athletes. Several have gone through these Games, key among them being South Africa’s Wayde Van Niekerk and Botswana’s Nigel Amos and Naomi Ruele.