Africa Games organisers have little to smile about

2011-09-19 13:16

Maputo, Mozambique – While South Africa had a lot to celebrate after finishing first at the All Africa Games in Maputo, the organisation of the continental showpiece fell far short of expectations.

Faced with many challenges, Mozambique managed to host the All Africa Games but not without major problems. The hosts built some of the best facilities in Africa but let themselves down when it came to logistics and planning.

South Africa’s head of delegation, Barry Hendricks, said Team South Africa coped well, despite the challenges they faced, to finish as the top nation at the Games.

“There were many challenges that we faced,” said Hendricks.

“With the programming, most of the events started late, affecting some of the planning and training. Transport was also one of the issues. Apart from that, we were able to cope and we were able to make sure our athletes were prepared and excelled in their specific events.”

Many countries had to resign themselves to traffic chaos and a lack of transportation which often saw teams arriving late for their events.

While the hosts were provided with brand new technical equipment, the officials lacked the training to operate it efficiently.

The collating and distribution of results was inefficient and results arrived in dribs and drabs, which annoyed both the media and country delegations.

Some events had to be rescheduled at the last minute and, at times, fixtures for the following day could not be confirmed and made planning almost impossible.

In the swimming and athletics events, some events were cancelled because there were not enough participants. The country only had two years to prepare for the Games after Zambia withdrew as hosts in April 2009.

Mozambique were nominated to take over the hosting and were supposed to receive assistance from other African nations. The South Africans, at the time, were busy with their own preparations for the 2010 Fifa World Cup and unable to provide any help.

Despite the problems, Hendricks felt Mozambique did well to host the Games considering the limited time they had to prepare for it.

“We had a wonderful time in Mozambique and we realised that the Mozambican organising committee had a challenge from the very beginning,” he said.

Hendricks said the South African management team were able to provide support to the athletes in areas where the organisers fell short.

“We strategised in a way so that our athletes could perform optimally,” Hendricks said.

“We provided them with the foundation on which they could perform and they brought home the medals we deserved.”

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