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Athletes conspicuously missing



Local athletes were surprisingly missing at the Gaborone International Meet (GIM) athletes press conference held ahead of the track and field competition that took place this past weekend in Gaborone.

The only local and top athlete present was 400m runner Baboloki Thebe at the event meant to give athletes a chance to discuss with the media their preparations ahead of the annual meet. It would prove even more embarrassing and disappointing when other participating nations that had been reported to have already arrived in Botswana did not show up either.

It was also at that time during the press conference, that one of the GIM returning sponsors Mascom, through its representative Tirelo Kooagile mentioned that he was actually seeing Thebe for the first time. He said that the star athlete was actually taller in person as he has only seen him on television.

It would even turn more awkward later that evening during the sponsors night meant to recognize and appreciate all who had contributed to the success of the 2019 meet, none of the local athletes were present but only a few athletes from the likes of Nigeria, Malawi and Lesotho managed to grace the event.

Botswana had over 200 athletes participating at the 2019 edition of GIM. The Meet Director, Glody Dube was quick to take the blame for it all, saying it was actually neglect from their side. Though they had sent out invitation to athletes, they did not arrange with athletes properly in terms of transport and other logistics.

Dube explained that the few foreign athletes that managed to attend the press conference and the sponsor’s night were accommodated at Oasis motel, which happened to be the venue for the two separate events. “Zambia, for instance is housed at the other end of town and I believe they found it difficult to travel this side,” Dube said.

As for the absence of local top stars such as Onkabetse Nkobolo, Isaac Makwala, Christine Botlogetswe and Galefele Moroko among others, Dube said that there was no proper arrangement made for them to attend the event either. He added that it might have also proved difficult for them to attend because an athlete requires lots of rest a day before competition. “We will look into the matter going forward so as we do not find ourselves embarrassed or inconveniencing athletes,” Dube noted.

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Volleyball coach explains selection of national team



Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) national team coach Kabo Ntshinogang says winning a league performance award does not guarantee national team call up.

Ntshinogang was responding to complaints made by some players recently that the national team squad is decided on favoritism and not merit. To their surprise, some players that were honored for exceptional play in the 2018 Mascom league were missing from the preliminary national team list that was released by the federation recently. The national team is preparing for the All Africa games qualifiers to be held in Mozambique later this month.

“Yes it is true, not all who were honored by Mascom last year made it into the team. Winning an award does not book a seat in the national team, a lot of things go into being selected as national team material,” Ntshinogang said this week.

The coach in charge of the ladies’ team explained that in some instances, a player can score many points in one particular game while a more talented player might have been absent on the day.
That, he said could make other talented players fail to collect points and catch up, as every game is different.

“We use the league to gauge performance however, we can never all agree on who is best suited a place in the national team. Difference in opinions will always come in and perhaps provide a healthy debate,” the coach said.

Ntshinogang added that if he indeed used favoritism to pick his team then his side of Mafolofolo Club would be dominating the list. Nevertheless, Kutlwano players are the ones with a large number of players at national team level. On the men side, assistant coach Kealeboga Mmekwane said that contrary to negative reports he came across, Kesaobaka Lenkopane of BDF XI, who was the 2018 league best setter has been invited to training but has not showed up yet.

“He was omitted from the list yes but we have since contacted his coach that the player should join the national team during training,” he said. Mmekwane continued to note that another omitted name was Meffery Chindumbo who is a foreigner and could not be called for national team duty. He revealed that they look into matters such as height, skill and the defence ability when they select their preferred team.

He explained that it was hard picking names and they were forced to rely on past experiences. “There is no league and we had to think hard to come up with a competitive team,” he said. For their first training, Mmekwane noted that the players are all a bit rusty as they are returning from a long break, saying some have even gained weight. He however expressed confidence that they will qualify for the games as they have over the years established themselves as a powerhouse in the region.

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Marape increases Botswana’s medal tally



Women Fide Master (WFM) Naledi Marape dazzled at the just ended Zone 4.3 championships held in Madagascar. She brought home a bronze medal.

The 2019 edition was the young Marape’s second zonal competition having finished on 5th position in Mozambique last year. Nevertheless, she emerged all hell bent to leave an impressive mark in Madagascar as she defeated highly ranked players to increase Botswana ‘s medal tally.

Marape emulated winning ways of Women International Master (WIM) Onkemetse Francis who finished in second position, grabbing a silver medal. Francis returned to the Chessboard following a short break from the game, itching to defend her 2018 bronze medal. She would however go up the ranks and give way for the developing star that is Marape.

It seems Marape drew inspiration from the experienced side of Francis and rightly put her foot down. The Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) spokesperson Kutlwano Tatolo explained that Marape is actually chasing her first Olympiad appearance next year.

“She has been doing well and one of the best youth players, however, competition is very stiff and she will need to work extra hard to improve her game,” she said. Tatolo described Marape as a player still full of energy and thirsty for success saying her level of growth in the game was promising.

However, Marape began the year on a low note and actually lost out on forming part of the ten Metropolitan Championships ladies’ finalists, thus the urge to keep busy drove her to international excellence.

The BCF had sent only one female representative to Madagascar however, Marape and another youth side in Women Candidate Master (WCM) Natalie Banda sponsored themselves to attend the zonal competition. Banda, who was making a debut at the tournament, finished in an impressive 8th position and she was given a trophy for being the youngest participant at the tournament.

Meanwhile, Fide Master (FM) Phemelo Khetho who recently won the Metropolitan championship failed to defend his 2018 silver medal in the open section but instead dropped to position 13.
His counterpart International Master (IM) Providence Oatlhotse, finished on the 6th place.

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