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Van Niekerk, Semenya for GIM

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South African superstar sprinter Wayde Van Niekerk and middle-distance heroine Caster Semenya may be on their way to local shores. The 2018 Gaborone International Meet (GIM) Local Organising Committee (LOC) is currently hatching a plan to bring the high profile duo to compete before local track and field supporters. Preparations for the eagerly anticipated 2018 GIM are well underway.

According to the event organiser Glody Dube, the ambitious LOC is going all out to bring a world-class track and field event to Gaborone. Dube was speaking to Sun Sport recently in an interview. “Semenya has already shown interest and our negotiations are at an advanced stage, Van Niekerk on the other hand is yet to respond, we are in talks with his manager,” said an optimistic Dube. According to Dube, the aim is to dazzle local track and field supporters with star power and the aura surrounding the two world champions who recently conquered the IAAF World championships in London.

“Batswana admire these athletes when watching them on television but have never had the opportunity to actually see them live during a track and field event,” he said. Hosting famous athletes like Van Nerikek and Semenya comes at a huge cost including travel expenses and appearance fees. However they LOL are currently running without a title sponsor. “We cannot solely run the event with amateurs, we need to popularise the event as much as possible or else we will lack mileage,” he said.

Quizzed on the how far they were with securing a sponsors progress on securing a title sponsor, Dube said, “We are moving in the right direction and some companies have shown interest in partnering with us.” Nevertheless, he expressed delight over interest from South African SuperSport Television Channel who has shown interest in broadcasting the event live.The former 800m runner and Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) administrator said they also expect the participation of star athletes including 800m runner Nijel Amos, 400m sprinter Isaac Makwala, 400m ladies side of Amantle Montsho and Lydia Jele. During the GIM LOC planning workshop held recently in Gaborone, Keenese Katisenge serving as head of Sales and Marketing said they want to fill up the stadium, “We are targeting 20 000 spectators.” Katisenge said they needed to close all the gaps in order to organise an entertaining show.

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Netball regresses

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When successfully hosting of the 2017 Netball Youth World Cup (NYWC) this past year under the Tebogo Lebotse Sebego regime, Botswana netball team (Under 21) showcased a crème dela cream squad, boasting exceptional players such as Pearl Maribe, Sarona Hans, Florence Poane and Cheludo David, just to mention a few.

This left many people anticipating for a smooth transition to the senior team and continue with their impressive performances at elite stages. However, this has not been the case as the national team has been performing dismally, failing to book a spot at the 2018 Africa Netball World Cup back in August, which will be hosted in England, Liverpool next year.

Prior the 2018 Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers staged in Zambia, Botswana roped in a mentor from South Africa, Dorette Badenhorst who confidently said in an interview with Sun Sport before departing to Zambia with team, that the team was in good shape. The results, however did not show and the coach was gone.

In an interview with Sun Sport this week, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Theresa Hirchfeld explained why the international coach (Badenhorst) left immediately after the qualifiers, “We had no money to hire an international coach but we desperately needed one hence Spar came to our rescue to bring Dorette Badenhorst on board to help us specifically qualify for the 2019 Netball World Cup edition.

We had to part ways with her because we did not have funds to continue with her,” she explained. According to BONA PRO, the continued absence of the domestic league can be pointed as the main reason why the national team has not been performing well recently, “We do not have a league running at the moment, hence resorting to meeting only on weekends in preparation for important tournaments.

However, I think we did fairly well at the just ended Diamond Challenge tournament held in South Africa looking at the fact that we were not able to go with our full squad due to Police Department events that hindered the selection of players from the Police side,” said the BONA PRO.

The 2018 Diamond Challenge Netball tournament in South Africa, Limpopo was played by Botswana, South Africa, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Zambia and South Africa’s president XII. The local team did not fare well as they lost most of the games they played, but only managed to salvage one consolation win.

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Knockout Football tournament returns

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The thrills, spills and high stakes of knock out football have returned to the local scene following the announcement of the new Orange FA Cup.

The mobile telecommunication company announced a P12.6 million, three-year deal that will see over 30 teams competing for the first prize of P700 000.After years of FA cup drought since the much-loved Coca Cola cup, 48 teams from the BTC Premiership, Debswana National First Division (DNFD) and regions are expected to slug it out for honour and glory in the newly introduced tournament scheduled for 2019. Addressing members of the media and other football stakeholders in Gaborone this week, BFA President Maclean Letshwiti said sponsorship remains a challenge to local football and other sporting codes.

“I am excited that the regions will finally get a platform to have an event which they can look forward to, with the prospect of generating income,” Letshwiti said. “Sponsorship is key to football as this is how our industry can grow and change the lives of footballers. When we crafted this sponsorship, we wanted an arrangement that can assist regional teams.” Letshwiti said Orange Botswana is no stranger to football as the company has been in football before and they are currently proud sponsors of CAF.

“A platform like the FA Cup offers a great -opportunity for all our league and structure to be scouted and seen by national team coaches across the board. We also now get an opportunity to close the gap between our leagues and increase competition for participation or qualification into the cup.”

Speaking during the same occasion, the Orange Botswana Chief Executive Officer Dr Patrick Benon said the sponsorship will be approximately P4.2 million per football season for a total of three seasons.

“This initiative demonstrates Orange Botswana’s strategy to cultivate talent and support local sports development in line with previous sponsorships like the Kabelano Charity Cup, the Orange Phikwe National Marathon and also the official Zebras National team sponsorship ahead of the historic appearance at the AFCON finals in 2012,” he said. Through these sponsorships, Benon said they have realised the significance of sport activities beyond entertainment.

“It is also about uniting communities, strengthening relationships and supporting activities. The sponsorship by Orange will cover prize money, individual awards, team kits, tournament administration fees and travelling, to name a few.” The competitions will kick off with eight teams from both the DNFD north and south. The first round will also include 16 regional teams. The second round will include 16 winners from the first round and 16 BTC Premiership teams. The second round is expected to produce the last 16 teams who will proceed to the quarter finals.

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