Region V Youth Games Local Organising Committee (LOC) chairperson, Labbeaus Peloewetse was recently given the tough task of delivering a seamless tournament, which the country hosts in December.
The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development, Thapelo Olopeng launched the games’ LOC in Gaborone this week.
Peloewetse was named as the head of the team, and he is committed to delivering a memorable tournament.
“I was asked to take this task by the minister and I accepted. I do not know the criteria he used to select me. As a citizen I said ‘yes’ so that I can do something for my country. I used to be a player and, later, an administrator,” he said.
At the time he retired as an administrator in 1996, he held the post of Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) vice chairperson. Peloewetse said he was involved in the planning of Botswana Games.
He said he felt that there was need for a structure and platform where talent could be nurtured. “We needed to provide a platform where we can simulate the type of competition they encounter when they meet other countries. I am talking about All Africa Games, Commonwealth Games amongst others. You can be a very talented athlete but if you are going to be expected to perform on an intimidating stage but you have never been in that environment, you might find that makes a difference for you psychologically,” he said.
He said for athletes to succeed, they should be put in a testing environment from an early age. Peloewetse said he believes in a model developed in Canada, which acknowledges that it takes 10 years to develop a child to be a World Champion.
“The process is not about giving them the technique and the mechanics of playing the sport or the strategies of playing in a team or individually. What is important is that you stimulate the kind of environment they are going to need. These games offer that,” Peloewetse said.
He said the Youth Games gives young athletes an opportunity to experience international multi sport event. He said he accepted the role of LOC chairperson, as he believes that there are a lot of benefits to be driven from hosting, including upgrading infrastructure.
“The games should leave a lasting legacy, not just remember how we felt during the games but something we can look at,” he said.
He said the LOC brings ideas and expertise but not funds. Peloewetse said they have already designed a legacy project that they want to do.
He said the committee was appointed last August to deliver the games in December 2018.
“My committee has been in existence for six months and we have nine months to go. Normally, the African Union Sport Council (AUSC) says in their guidelines, that we should have been appointed 36 months ago, which means the legacy project might not be visible at the end of our term. It is not criticism,” he said.
“I feel that when it comes to facilities
Peloewetse said the University of Botswana (UB) indoor sports complex is world-class and there is need to build another facility similar to it. He said this would position Botswana to host major international games.
He said the vision of the LOC was building an indoor sports facility at the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) courts, which is in close proximity to the UB.
The budget for the project is P15 million and the cost for the renovations and upgrading of facilities cost P13 million.
“The reality is that right now in terms of preparations our focus is to renovate the existing facilities and upgraded to international standard. The reality is that indoor facility would not happen. I refuse to think that it should not happen. I feel that we should give it a go. Even if it is not ready for these games, it can be ready for other set of games in future,” he said.
Peloewetse said if they do not build the indoor facility and let the momentum fizzle, they would get into that habit of letting go. He said they should come up with an option of what to use instead of the indoor facility. He said the project could run parallel.
Peloewetse said they want to make sure that the experience of the young athletes is not affected by logistics, for instance, how they slept or issues of transport. He said the only thing that should separate them should be their ability.
Meanwhile, Peloewetse said medical supplies are expensive and when hosting games, it is a requirement that is set aside. He said UB medical centre is going to be a poly clinic for the games. Peloewetse said they must make sure that the hospital has the necessary supplies.
Reacting to concerns that a de-registered code, gymnastics, will be allowed to compete, Peloewetse said it was the Region V’s call as they own the games.
“Although a sport code might not exist in a particular country, the Region V has sports that are popular within the region and gymnastics is one of them. In Botswana it is not established. The LOC did not have a say in the inclusion of codes in the games. However, at this stage we are having some challenges for not having a gymnastics association in the country. We rely on the national governing bodies to guide us. That means when it comes to gymnastics we do not have guidance,” he said.
Peloewetse said they only have a say in sport codes that are included in addition to those that have been part of the games. Botswana has added volleyball for the first time in the history of the games.