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May 26, 2014
Botswana fans light up second Africa Youth Games

Botswana fans at the stadium.(Photo by Tchaffo Jean)
by Godwin Nii-Armah Okine
GABORONE, May 26, 2014 - Fans are the lifeblood of any sporting activity. They motivate their athletes, denigrate their opponent’s; and give an overall atmosphere to a sports arena that would otherwise be lacking. Therefore their contribution to the success of any sporting endeavour cannot be underestimated, and nowhere is this illustrated as clearly as at the ongoing second African Youth Games, currently being held in Gaborone, Botswana.

Throughout the competition so far, the fans have been the lifeblood of the event. Botswana has not hosted an event of this magnitude before, but the fans have taken so enthusiastically to the challenge of spurring on the home team one would be forgiven for thinking they were in the San Siro, or the Vicente Calderon when witnessing the exuberant level of support provided to the home team.

It all started at the opening ceremony, which was hosted before a capacity crowd at the Botswana International Stadium. Fans were seated hours before the ceremony commenced, chatting excitedly amongst themselves. Whilst preparations were busily ongoing for the event, the fans waited patiently, with the charged atmosphere being interrupted by the occasional Mexican Wave; an activity almost everyone joyfully participated in.

The ceremony itself was magnificent, the crowd infinitely more so. Almost every announcement was greeted to a great cheer; the arrival of dignitaries, the speeches presented by the dignitaries, and the performances that followed. There was scarcely a moment when loud cheers were not ringing out throughout the stadium.

The loudest cheers were reserved though, for two instances; the performances of the selected children during the ceremony, and the parade of Team Botswana. The enthusiasm with which Team Botswana was greeted shook the whole grounds, and there was no mistaking the pride felt by two million people all across Botswana.

The strong support has continued throughout the games as Botswana rubs shoulders with the rest of Africa. At Netball, the team is always greeted to rousing cheers when they arrive, and their opponents to derisive chants. The fans were so loud that before the Zimbabwe-Botswana netball game, Team Zimbabwe’s warm up was erratic as the team felt nervous in front of the partisan crowd. Botswana eventually won a tightly contested game by a lone point, egged on by their fans.

At Swimming, Soccer, at every single event so far, the fans continue to be a delightful spectacle. They provide a backdrop to these exciting games that is hard to miss, and for Team Botswana they remain their strongest backbone. It has not always worked, the soccer team keeps getting hammered; but the support remains as strong as ever. For Botswana this is a great opportunity, hosting the whole of Africa- and the fans are making sure it is one nobody would forget in a long time to come.

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