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Branch gets 7th TDR win

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The 1000 Toyota Desert Race (TDR) has become one of the most obvious sporting events to predict. If you are a betting man or woman, then you will definitely go with the Gineil De Villiers in the production car category and when it comes to two-wheeler bikes it will definitely be Ross Branch.

Local rider Ross Branch cemented his legend in Jwaneng this past weekend when he   won the Desert Race for the seventh time. Ross crossed the start finish line soon after the dominant Toyota Gazoo Racing Hilux piloted by De Villiers. Branch arrived to jubilant cheers and pomp as he popped a wheel to celebrate his 7th TDR victory.

Throughout the years Branch has been a perfect example of man and machine working in perfect harmony as he dominated the TDR. “It was a very long race and it was extremely hard because of the cars that made routes yesterday. The bike was well set up but this morning I had a close call with a car driven by one of the spectators. It was fun I had a lot of time in the saddle today which is good preparation for the 2019 Dakar Rally,” Branch said.

“This is a step in the right direction and look forward to Dakar.” In a post-race interview, Branch said he has competed the Desert Race in his home town Jwaneng and he is now   hoping to achieve a good result at the Dakar scheduled for Peru in South America. The KTM rider said   preparations for the Dakar are underway and he intended to do a lot of riding in the sandy terrain of Jwaneng, which   gives him an advantage. “I want to spend a lot of time in the bike because I know the area and the sand is good for practice.

I have been working hard this year, the gaps between competing riders are small these days because my rivals are improving so I have to be   focused on the race and ensure I don’t get lost and watch out for different obstacles,” he said.

“I have now won seven times in the Desert Race including three wins in Jwaneng.”Despite having a close call with a vehicle driven by   spectators, Branch said local fans   are fantastic and he has seen spectators along the full 500 kms in the race. You see friends from Jwaneng and back home in Gaborone. “When I am a bit down and tired, they are screaming my name it’s a real motivator.” Branch said the spectators did not come on the track and they are well behaved.

“Even after Dakar I will continue to race the TDR, I will never stop racing here as long as I have a contract with Comfort his part the KTM race team mechanic Kevin Tyrer said there is a lot to the Desert Race and Branch is a home town boy. “For the KTM team the race was extremely   smooth, we had a few issues but it was an easy race   for us.

The motivation on the team comes from winning and beating other manufacturers. Regarding the Dakar Tyrer said the race is what people dream of and the cost factor   of competing there is extravagant to have the Dakar on your mind means you should be extremely committed. “Last year you had Vincent Crosbie who went there and he did well.”

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Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19

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Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.

Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.

“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.

Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.

“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.

Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year  for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having  already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.

“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”

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BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet

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Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.

Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe.  No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.

Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.

However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry  of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”

Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.

However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.

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