HARARE – The African Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region Five Games organisers say they are moving with speed to ensure that host venues are world-class and do not fall into a state of disrepair after the event.
A significant benefit in hosting the regional youth sports extravaganza is the long-term investment of enjoying the legacy of improved sporting venues.
However, far from being a lasting legacy, athletes of former host nations have had to watch while the infrastructure has crumbled.
The other major problem is that host nations fail to complete facilities on time resulting in the athletes competing in substandard venues.
In 2012, Zambia had to endure a manic push to complete the Games tennis courts on time.
Zimbabwe joined the band wagon in 2014 barely completing the swimming pool and athletics track, resulting in the delay to the start of the competition.
Zimbabwe’s Sports minister Makhosini Hlongwane later said some of the contractors, who presided over the construction of the youth games’ facilities, fled the country before meeting contractual obligations leaving local sport lovers to pick up the rumbles.
In 2016 Angola was also not spared by the glitches when they hosted the event.
“The challenge we face is that the infrastructure is finished late, so sustainability becomes a challenge,” AUSC Region Five general manager Stanley Mutoya said on the sidelines of a regional meeting in Johannesburg, South Africa at the weekend.
“As a region we have to assist the countries in terms of the timeline for the delivery of the infrastructure which will also allow the infrastructure to cure.
“Part of the infrastructure we are using for the Games is not up to the standard of our regulations and we are looking at strategies to ensure that our infrastructure is not only ready but is ready on time.”
The meeting in South Africa reviewed the organisation of the Games held in Angola, lessons learnt and recommendations for Botswana 2018.
“While the Games in Angola where a success, there were a lot of lessons learnt,” Mutoya said.
“One of the lessons is to do with our period of planning, that we have to increase our period of planning from the time countries sign their protocol agreements to the time that they host the Games, this will allow countries enough time and flexibility.”
He added that there was need to put more effort in training officials, coaches and referees to raise the standard of officiating at the Games.
The major regional sporting event brings together about 2 000 athletes and technical officials during pre-planning, competition and post competition for debriefing and closure of the games.
“We realise that these Games are serving as a development platform for the region and we need to invest more in the training of these officials,” he said.
The eighth edition of the Games will be held in Gaborone, Botswana next year.