In efforts to make the country proud, National Sports Associations (NSAs) are preparing hard for the African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games that are billed for Maseru, Lesotho in December.
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 were subsequently rescheduled for 3 to 12 December 2021 in the Lesotho capital that hugs the Caledon River.
The AUSC Games take place on a biennial basis and target athletes under the age of 20 from sporting codes like football, athletics and netball.
Botswana finished third at the 2018 AUSC Games which were held in Gaborone where the country ‘hoarded’ 69 medals, including 12 golds. NSAs are reportedly working hard to ensure a bigger medal haul a better position in Maseru.
At Botswana Boxing Association (BOBA), its president Gilbert Khunwane says preps are going well. “So far so good,” Khunwane told The Business Weekly Sports. “Everything is going according to plan.
“We are trying our utmost best to prepare our student-dominated team by holding weekend training camps because we do not want to disturb their studies. We are confident that we have selected a strong team that will fulfil our ambitions.”
Vice President Administration at Botswana Athletics Association (BAA), Oabona Theetso, says they are still working with a preliminary team. “Our training camp is divided into two – athletes in the North meet in Francistown on weekends to train while those in South meet in Gaborone,” Theetso said.
“Our aim is to have a final by the end of next week. It is going to be a strong one that will make the nation proud. Compared to other sporting codes, athletics never disappoint. We always bring medals from these Games.”
However, some codes may be dealing with a hitch or two. At Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF), president Daniel Molaodi says their team is yet to go into camp. “That is because of shortage of resources,” Molaodi said in an interview. “But our target is for the team to go into camp during the first or second week of November. We know it will be late but our players have been doing individual training and we are aware of their progress. We would have preferred to have a lengthy training camp but some things are beyond our control.”
But BVF is not fazed by its circumstances and aims to defend the gold medal won by the men’s team at the last edition of the Games in 2019. “And we want the women’s team to do better than the silver they got at the time,” Molaodi told The Business Weekly Sports. “We are aware that it is not going to be easy as Botswana sports were hit hard by COVID-related suspensions and players may be down on the rhythm.”
The Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) has set aside P12.5 million for the Games, according to the organisation’s CEO, Tuelo Serufho.
The AUSC Region 5 Games have become a key development component and springboard for athletes, several of whom have passed through them to international stardom. Among them are Botswana’s Nigel Amos and Naomi Ruele and South Africa’s Wayde van Niekerk.