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Chess dream team off to Olympiad

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The Botswana chess dream team that will represent the country at the 2016 World (Chess) Olympiad in Baku, Azerbaijan is the best the country can possibly mount.

Speaking at a sending off ceremony in Tlokweng on Monday, Botswana Chess Federation (BCF) president Tshenolo Maruatona said the formidable team assembled by the Botswana Chess Federation (BCA) went through rigorous selection to ensure they are ready for the task ahead.

The team was expected to leave for Baku yesterday (Tuesday). Addressing players and other stakeholders, Maruatona said the Olympiad was the highest platform for any chess player with over 180 teams from all over the world competing. “Only a few outstanding individuals can manage to make it through to the competition,” he said.

Maruatona reminded the team of the tough battle ahead of them at the Olympiad, adding that the international showpiece is made up of world grandmasters. “Africa has only two Grandmasters so far and the competition is not as easy as some might think.” However, Maruatona urged the team not to be passive victims of circumstance at the competition, but to be vigorous and aggressive towards their opponents.

“The dignity of our country lies on your shoulders. Lift up our national flag with pride and project qualities that will represent us well on the board”. The President noted that chess players should take pride in the game, for it is a sporting code that produces reputable academic personnel. “We are not just any other code and this is something we always mention to our sponsors.”

Maruatona said the BCA is proud of delivering the board game that engages the strategic and critical thinking of players, adding that people should note that the more the mind is trained, the sharper it becomes. Even though the team has not attained the desired optimal preparation, Maruatona expressed absolute confidence in the team, which is a blend of well-experienced and pristine players.

The female team consists of star players like Onkemetse Francis, Thapelo Francis, Mob Mabedi and Boikhutso Modongo. Representing the male team is Ndawana Mosenya, Moakofi Notha, Keletshabile Monnatsheko, Thuso Mosutha and the youngest player Otsile Mapini. Maruatona explained that funding was one major setback that the team encountered. However, Bathopele Construction Company came to their rescue and sponsored the team to the tune of P75,000 in early August.

“Our company is all about giving back to the community and if resources are permitting we are hopeful that next year we will inject more to the cause,” said Sarona Odirile, a manager at Bathopele.

For her part, BCA spokesperson, Keenese Katisenge, said the team is aiming for category medal in each section at the Olympiad, improve Botswana’s rankings and also acquire new titles.She said the games would commence on the 2nd of September. The team will be expected back home on the 15th September.

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Well-endowed Galaxy

Isaac Pheko

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FIRE POWER: Galaxy await Rollers

It is only the third week of the 2018/19 BTC Premiership and things are already heating up. Leading the charge is a marauding Jwaneng Galaxy who have already thrown a heavy-handed gauntlet at their rivals after recording a highly impressive 10 goals in just two games.

Galaxy’s intention has been made clear this season after leaving their first two opponents with bloody noses and tails tucked between their legs. The former Mascom Top 8 champions are in a relentless war path with the premier league title on their radar. This weekend, Galaxy host bitter rivals Township Rollers in Jwaneng in what is expected to be a football grudge match. Rollers have been a prickly thorn in Galaxy’s quest to claim the premiership silverware for the past two seasons.

This means the weekend fixture will be the most compelling of the new season. However, Galaxy seem to be packing more heat coming into the Saturday fixture having annihilated both Prisons XI (5-0) and Security Systems (5-0). Galaxy are currently occupying first position alongside second place Sharps Shooting Stars at six points apeice. The game against Popa this weekend will be a litmus test for Galaxy. If the Debswana backed side beats the reigning champions they will establish themselves as potential contenders for the 2018/19 title honours. On the flipside, a loss against Rollers will only mean the first two games were short of a bluff.

Pound for pound Mapalastina have the best squad in the domestic league but a new look Galaxy are well endowed in their own right. In an interview this week, Galaxy spokesperson Tankiso Morake said they played Rollers three times last season and all the games ended in a draw. “Remember we played Rollers in the Mascom Top 8 in Lobatse,” an up-beat Morake said. Morake further said they expected their new coach to receive his permits and start manning the bench when they play Rollers this weekend. “Our supporters have told us that they expected nothing less than league honours this season.” Morake attributes the positive result to a great pre-season.

“You will remember that there was a fake list in the media indicating that we have parted ways with most of our players. You can see that the likes of Ayanda Molefe and Isaac Paeye are still part of the team. There is a lot of competition in our team because we mostly have young players in the team including Lebogang Ditsile who played at Highlands Park in South Africa.” Furthermore, Morake conceded that Rollers are a strong team but argued that they will win the games from the technical bench. “You will remember that we started the last season back tracking but this time things are different.”

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Bridge team fails to impress

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The local team comprised of under 16, under 21 and under 26 categories. In an interview this week, BBF spokesperson Mbakiso Malilo did not mince his words when he described the team’s performance as terrible with all the three teams failing to qualify for the quarter finals.

“Making it to the quarter finals was our target following a good showing in the online championship by our junior team. I believe we can work on improving the playing standard for kids (under 16) as they still stand a chance to compete in the under 21 and under 26 categories for future championships,” he said.

However, Malilo explained that the local youth team gained a lot of experience as the played against more advanced rivals. Quizzed on challenges they faced with a predominantly youthful team, Malilo said: “the trip was too long and for most of the players this was their first experienced of travelling such a great distance. The jet lag ended up affecting the team’s performance as they showed signs of fatigue.” Malilo said their objective was to train young players and give them exposure to the game early on.

“We managed to network with bridge power houses like the Netherlands. Official from the European country expressed interest in training our kids through bridge clinics and enhancing the standard of play and bidding.” Malilo said they selected the junior team that travelled to China through local tournament that was held in Gaborone earlier this year. The tournament was attend by mostly tertiary school students and out of school youth in the junior and youngsters’ category. For the under 16 category we invited student from secondary schools.

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