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Volleyball women

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The Botswana women’s senior national volleyball   team has become a force to reckon with in the African continent. Currently, the women’s volleyball team, which is scheduled to  compete at the Rio 2016 Olympic Qualifiers in Cameroon beginning this Friday, is now rated above the likes of South Africa and other   countries in the region that used to be ranked higher.

This was revealed by the president of the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) Daniel Molaodi at the team’s sending off ceremony held in Gaborone this Wednesday.

“There are seven teams that will be competing at the qualifiers and only one of the teams is rated below us. The other countries that have always troubled us in the qualifiers include Algeria, Kenya, Egypt, Morocco and the hosts Cameroon,” Molaodi said. The team left yesterday for the games that will be played until February 19.

Molaodi glorified the growth of the team over the years, attributing the growth to previous preparatory initiatives that have seen the team stay together for long. The core of the current national team, he added, previously went on a training camp in Thailand where they were preparing for the last Olympic games.  “The   dividends of that camp are now slowly paying off. If we want high performance we must be willing to invest,” he said.

The acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Youth Sports and Culture Kago Ramokate, who officiated at the send off ceremony, heaped praise on the team he said had already made a significant achievement by being chosen to represent the country against some of the best teams in the continent.

“Your steady trajectory in the African rankings not only shows growth of women’s volleyball in Botswana, but also symbolises commitment, passion and   hunger on the part of local clubs and their athletes,” Ramokate said, adding, “I would therefore like to implore you to go to Cameroon and play the best volleyball of your lives; and trust me, whatever the result you bring, we will be more than happy provided you played to your best.”

The team’s head coach Kabo Ntshinogang expressed satisfaction that preparations for the qualifiers went according to plan. He added that he knew and understood the majority of the players in the team except the three who will be making their senior national team debut – Tshiamo Chakalisa of Kutlwano, Jestinah Moyo of Dynamites and Keba Phofedi of Kalavango.

“ But the three new players have also shown readiness for battle and we hope they will gel quickly into the team,” he said. “The crucial qualifiers feature the cream of African volleyball. Some of the teams at the competition know us well, however we are also familiar with them.

We are a bit lacking in the attack department although our strength is on par with that of the opposition. This is something we have been working on at training,” the coach added.

Meanwhile the three senior national team rookies were full of confidence that they will fit well in the team. In a brief interview on the sidelines of the send off, Tshiamo said she was ready for the daunting test ahead as this will not be the first time she faced international competition. “I have played against the likes of Egypt and Tunisia in development teams,” she said. Another debutant, Phofedi, said she was expecting the team to do better after the intense training they went through.

The Libero said she had gained from the knowledge of other experienced players in the team. For her part, Moyo expressed optimism for the team’s chance to proceed further in the qualifiers as they enter the competition as a strong unit.

Like Chakalisa, Moyo has played for the Under 20 and Under 23 teams and was the captain of Botswana’s African Youth Games volleyball team in 2014. The winner of the continental qualifiers will gain automatic qualification to Rio while the next two finishers will proceed to the final world Olympic Qualifiers to be played in May.

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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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