Gaborone International Meet received a major financial boast from the government this week, with the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development injecting P410, 000 into the event. The event, which is on its third year running, takes place in Gaborone on April 27 at the National Stadium.
The event, which is under the Sports View Runners Club, is also supported by the Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) that provides certification of implements and officials to the IAAF standards.
Further the one-day event provides a platform for local and international athletes to prepare and qualify for major athletics events such as Olympics and World Championships.
General Manager of the event Kitso Kemoeng said they are grateful of the support that the government has extended to the competition.
“As the Local Organizing Committee (LOC) we are impressed with the financial support that the government has given us. The money is going to be spent mostly on appearance fees and prize money for the athletes because without prizes we can’t attract high profile athletes. So the government sees this as a project which the youth can be empowered with more especially when it comes to creation of employment. But we are still in talks with other key members of the corporate sector for possible partnerships,” said Kemoeng.
However, the Ministry of Sports’s support for the event is not a new thing as they have contributed P50, 000 towards the event in the past years. Top athletes as in the past three years are expected to participate.
According to Kemoeng, 400m Commonwealth gold medalist Isaac Makwala, Baboloki Thebe, Karabo Sibanda and high jump maestro Kabelo Kgosiemang have so far confirmed their participation in the event. In the ladies side the likes of Amantle Montsho, Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko will also be available.
Event organisers are vigorously campaigning for Gaborone International Meet to be included in the IAAF Diamond League Series, something that is proving to be a mammoth task. For now Africa has only one Diamond League event which takes place in Morocco, Rabat.
“We still hope that one day we will be part of the Diamond League Series. But we have made contact with Confederation of Athletics Association (CAA) to put us in the level of Mauritius Meet which is rated higher. Right now we are still at trial stage. So at this point in time we are pushing to be put in the same category as Mauritius which is called Bronze,” explained GIM director Glody Dube.
GIM organisers have engaged Botswana Tourism Organisation (BTO) and Botswana Investment and Trade Centre (BITC) for possible partnerships since the meet has the potential to attract tourists and even investment.
“We have opened dialogue with the two entities and the hope is to map out a future relationship in which we will leverage on one another to continue to grow the country into an investment destination of choice. But much of the efforts will be for the next edition in 2020,”said Kemoeng.
Other sponsors which have so far extended their support to the competition are Rolling Wheels who have injected P10, 000 and Special Olympics Botswana with a P5000 sponsorship. Other sponsors include Khayalihle Guest House, Pro Guard Security, Vincent Excellent Tours and BNOC.