As the African Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament is underway in Equatorial Guinea, we are asking ourselves why Botswana cannot host this tournament as well. For years Batswana have been yearning to have this African football show piece on their home soil. However, even up to this date it still remains a wish to us. The question is, is the country ready to host an event of such a magnitude?
Botswana came very close to hosting Africa in 2010 when many countries did not bid, but BFA administration’s slow reaction saw the opportunity slip by to Angola after government refused to back them. Government did not have a choice but to reject the backing since bidding proposal was presented to them at last minute. To host this tournament requires a lot of money as a result a thorough budgeting needs to be done, so at last minute government could not help.
This means if BFA is serious with the hosting all they have to do is prepare a proposal well in time to give government ample time to see how they could help. For a moment one may think the actions of local football administrators are deliberately dragging their feet on this matter for no reason.
We believe that if BFA really want the country to host AFCON this can be achieved. Yes it can happen. Even though it is exorbitantly expensive, it does not need anything that is impossible to get. Obviously the money is there and the stadia are there. They may not be at the required standard but they can be upgraded; besides you have got to start from somewhere. Some may think we are not ready to host the AFCON but we say a baby learns to crawl before walking. If we cannot do it on our own we can at least co-host with one of our neighbouring countries.
Look what Gabon and Equatorial Guinea did in 2012, they combined forces and together they succeeded. Now three years later Equatorial Guinea held it on their own because they had set a foundation. Botswana should learn from this, it could help reduce the high costs the BFA seems to be scared of. We already have the National stadium, the Francistown Stadium and the Lobatse Stadium. Accommodation is also of no concern as the country is already advanced in this field so it will not be a big struggle if we co-host.
Just last year there have been reports that Zimbabwe has extended an invitation to Botswana to co-host the AFCON cup. Our advice is BFA should take this opportunity if it still stands or if it ever existed. If it were just tales then BFA should take it upon its shoulders to find a country willing to partner with them and bid for the next open opportunity to play co-hosts.
Hosting AFCON does not only gobble up the finances of a country but also bring many opportunities to bring more money home. Therefore all government departments and the private sectors should come on-board and help the BFA on this one because it can never be a one man show. However, BFA should take initiative and lead the pack then success will follow. South African Football Association (SAFA) showed persistence to convince their government that they can bring the world to them in 2010 by hosting the World Cup. Many countries did not believe that an African country could pull that off, but they did. BFA should also show this kind of enthusiasm to convince the government and the country that they are serious about hosting AFCON.