Two of Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) top players Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho and Candidate Master (CM), Barileng Gaelafshwe abandoned participation at the 2018 Botswana International Open Chess championships held in Gaborone this past weekend.
The two national team players returned from the 43rd Chess Olympiad staged in Georgia Batumi early this month. Khetho emerged the biggest winner amongst the local team scoring 6.5 from the 10 games played. His ratings also increased by a staggering 48 Elos. As for Gaealafshwe, he managed to bring home four points from the nine games he played.
The weekend international tournament sponsored by Debswana Mining Company was the BCF national team’s first assignment since the Olympiad. However Khetho and Gaelafshwe pulled out during the tournament. “We are still waiting to hear their reasons as to why they decided to pull out,” BCF Secretary General Tingwane Mokwadi said this week.
However, when reached, both Khetho and Gaelafshwe confirmed that they were not fit to play on the day. “There were a lot of things happening to me that day and I resorted to pulling out,” Khetho said. Olympiad exhaustion maybe?
“Yes that and other things, just like in a race, when the body is not responding, an athlete cannot bring out desired results,” he said.As for Gaelafshwe, he noted that he was failing to concentrate on the game. “I was dealing with personal issues that made it hard for me to focus,” Gaealafshwe said.
Mokwadi shared that going into the tournament, chess queen Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis had excused herself. This meant that they were already a limping lot. BCF expected that all the other national team players would be present on the day to boost chances of winning the tournament.
He was confident that the team has the right energy levels from the just ended games in Batumi and all geared up to dethrone Zambia. Zambia has always been a pain in the neck, not easy to penetrate and dominating the tournament in the past years.
“They are some of our strong players and having them in the team would have increased our chances of winning more medals,” Mokwadi said.Meanwhile, International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse of Botswana won the prestige section while Women Candidate Master (WCM) Constance Mbatha of Zambia is the ladies section champion.
Botswana ‘s Innocent Bosane won the open section. The tournament defending champions Women Fide Master (WFM) Lorita Mwango and IM Daniel Jere from Zambia did not participate at the 2018 games.
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
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.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
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.