The Botswana Women’s National Rugby team has received a major boost ahead of their Rugby Sevens Castle tournament due to be held in Zambia next month.
The team was on Thursday given a kit sponsorship by the Botswana Insurance Company (BIC).
Speaking to Standard Sport after the kit handover, the Chairperson of the Botswana Women’s Rugby Association, Chada Kealotswe, said she believed the sponsorship will go a long way in boosting the performance of the ladies rugby team in competitions. She says ever since women rugby players started playing contact rugby in 2007, the sport has grown tremendously. Kealotswe says when the ladies National team was first started in 2008, the side was the weakest in the Southern Region but says things have changed much since then as they are now almost at par with countries that started ahead of them.
She told Standard Sport that should the team get more funds and time, they can be one of the best teams in the region.
While there has been concern that Batswana’s small physical structure may prove to be a hurdle to the development of the sport, Kealotswe is of the view that, with proper development, their physical size wouldn’t count much. She alluded to the fact that despite their almost small physical size, the South African ladies team has been performing well and holding their own against rugby powerhouses, which she says can be attributed to their good development, not their physical presence.
She says for Botswana women’s rugby to develop, there is a need to bridge the gap between school rugby and club rugby. Kealotswe says there is need to introduce contact rugby in women’s school rugby leagues if women’s rugby is to be fully developed.
She added that there is need to raise awareness of women’s rugby saying at the moment there is a feeling that rugby is a man’s sport, which she says plays a role in women not wanting to play the sport.
For her part, the manager of the women’s National Rugby team, Lila Pavey, told Standard Sport that the kit sponsorship by BIC was the first step towards building partnership with the insurance company.
Pavey says BIC has shown interest in committing to a long partnership with women’s rugby in Botswana. She says women’s rugby is still in its formative years and there is still a lot that needs to be done for its development. The women’s National Team manager says they have, therefore, found it necessary to align themselves with women’s rugby associations and clubs in Southern Africa to be involved in tournaments and gain exposure.
She says besides participating in tournaments in the Southern African region, it will also be ideal if they can also host an annual local tournament involving international teams in the country.
She told Standard Sport that they are working hard to get on the same level as African rugby powerhouses.
Pavey expressed concern that the women’s rugby is losing a lot of potential players after completing school, which she partly attributes to lack of contact rugby at schools, which hampers progress to club rugby.
Meanwhile, BIC’s Head of Marketing, Thabo Majola, has reiterated that his company is keen on helping women’s rugby in the country develop. Majola told Standard Sport that his company wants to establish a long term relationship with the women’s rugby, adding that BIC will be awaiting the women’s rugby association to come back to them to iron out the sponsorship details.
He says the kit sponsorship was done as an immediate remedy to the request by women’s rugby for kit sponsorship ahead of their upcoming games. Majola says they expect that once the women’s rugby team has completed its schedule, they will give BIC their development road map and both the two parties will be able to sit down and decide the way forward.