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Chess gurus arrive to drill local champs

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Chess Grandmasters Nikolai Chadaev(Russia) and El Gindy Essam of Egypt are expected in the country today (Wednesday). The two GMs will be in Botswana for a full-month training the Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) senior national team ahead of the 2018 Chess Olympiad.

The Olympiad is scheduled for the 23rd September to the 6th of October in Batumi, Georgia. According to BCF president Mothokomedi Thabano, Chadaev will train the ladies side of Women International Master (WIM) Kgalalelo Botlhole, Onkemetse Francis, Chandapiwa Kgomotso Women Fide Master (WFM) Besa Masaiti and Boitumelo Radikoro. The men’s team of International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho Candidate Master (CM) Barileng Gaealafshwe, CM Thabo Gumpo and Moakofi Notha will be coached by Essam.

Going into the competition, Thabano said the intention is to send a well-prepared team to Georgia. Among other things, BCF will be looking to improve player rankings and hopefully acquire new titles.“I am confident that the team will compete once in Georgia; the national team has been busy at work almost every weekend. The return of the Chess league also played a major role in ensuring that our players stay engaged and their eyes fixed on the board,” he said.

The president added that they expect stiff competition ahead, especially that they will be playing without the experienced brains of Boikhutso Modongo on the ladies team. Modongo has always been the pillar and strength of the local ladies, however she excused herself citing personal reasons. Modongo’s absence means Francis and Botlhole will have to try and mother the team. Kgomotso, Masaiti and Radikoro will be marking their debut into the Senior National Team and will also be attending the Olympiad for the very first time. The Botswana team is scheduled to jet off to Georgia on the 21st of September.

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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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