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BONA engages Malawian coach

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Botswana Netball Association (BONA) has roped in seasoned Malawian coach Griffin Saenda in a bid to turn the national team into world-beaters. Saenda comes with an illustrious resume after he previously led the Malawian netball team to world championships on more than one occasion. The Southern African nation continues to maintain a top twenty-world ranking. Saenda has already hit the ground running having held senior national team selections this past weekend in Gaborone. BONA netball courts were turned into a stomping ground as national team aspirants competed for positions in anticipation of World championships scheduled for August later this year in the United Kingdom.

In an interview this week, BONA president Malebo Raditladi said have engaged someone with valuable experience in the sport as the netball level of play in the country continues to grow over the years. “The management agreed on sourcing someone who has worked with high level athletes because choosing athletes for national team engagements requires skill and experience hence only the highly knowledgeable coach was required for the job,” Raditladi said.

Moreover, Raditladi said the turn out for the two-day trails was satisfactory adding that most parts of the country were represented. “We have not been able to host our league in the past year. The league assisted in assessing potential national team players, so we had to come up with an alternative, which was to bring a pool of players under one setting and select a team from them.” In an interview with Sun Sports, Saenda said local ladies have the talent to compete with other high level netballers from across Africa.

“The opportunity to work with Botswana players was wonderful. The players are open to advice and that made everything easy for us,” Saenda said. Nevertheless, Saenda said there were a number of concerns regarding the players such as low levels of fitness. The coach said local player lack in agility, which is one major requirement in netball. “Botswana players need further training before August because other Associations are certainly working harder day in and day out to attain results for the games,” he warned.

For her part, BONA Vice technical advisor Lorato Thebekgosi said the exercise was transparent and fair. All the candidates were awarded the same opportunity to showcase their skills. “We are faced with a daunting task of producing results and maintaining good reputation for the association after hosting a successful Netball Youth World Cup. According to Thebekgosi successful candidates will be notified as early as possible and training calendar will be communicated to them in time.

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Local boxers ready for regional tourney

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CONFIDENT: Newly unveiled LOC is confident that the regional tourney will be a success

Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.

The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.

Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.

For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.

He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.

Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.

According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.

Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.

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Branch does it again

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Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.

The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.

At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.

Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.

Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.

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