Tough season for Botswana Netball
By LEBOWA MOROEN
The Botswana National Netball team's competitive struggles continued as they won only one of their three matches at the 2017 Penta (Five Nations) Series Tournament held in Namibia last weekend. The Senior ladies suffered a similar fate at the 2017 African Nations cup competition earlier this year, where they won only one match and failed to qualify for the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.
The Penta Tournament was a ranking competition sanctioned by the African Netball and the International Netball Federation (INF). This is the first Internationally recognised 5 Nations hosted in Africa. Botswana was up against hosts Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Swaziland at the 2-day competition with matches played at the Patrick Iyambo Police Training Centre netball courts in Windhoek.
With every team aiming at improving their rankings, Botswana faced tough competition and it showed in the first match as they lost 39-32 to Swaziland. On the same day, they went on to play against the top ranked team at the competition World, number 15, Zambia. Botswana lost 67-42. Dinaledi redeemed themselves in their final match beating Namibia 40 – 38.
Team Botswana, which is currently ranked 20th in the INF world rankings, was made up of U21 and Senior National Team players. Half (6) of the squad was made up of capped senior players while the other half encompassed youngsters who represented Botswana at the World Youth Cup. In an interview with Echo, BONA Vice President, Lorato Thebekgosi, said this decision was influenced by a desire to start developing players for the 2022 Commonwealth games.
“We did this because we believe that we need to start developing our senior team. We have some U21 players who are mature enough to play at senior level. It helps that the u21’s have been active as there hasn’t been regular netball competitions here at home, so we saw fit to take them under the guidance of more senior players. So, this is a risk we can benefit from,” Thebekgosi said.
Botswana will wait for the official Rankings to be released to learn if our ranking has improved.
2017 has been a tough season for Botswana Netball. Apart from successfully hosting and competing at the Netball World Youth Cup, the Association has done nothing else. There has been no local League nor has the senior national squad been give attention, except to be sent to competition with little preparation, as players were placed under camp for only 2 weeks due to lack of finances.
With all resources directed at hosting the Netball World Cup, there has been no competitive matches except the Re A Ba Tsaa games that were directed at preparing Dinaletsana for competition. Though commendable, this has done little for the senior National team players who have been inactive except for the 2 competitions.
A perfect example of the importance of continuous games was displayed by Dinaletsana who had over 2 years of camp, international match practice and physical and mental preparation. The results? 10th place at an International event. The same cannot be expected of a team given only 2 weeks to train before travelling to Namibia.