The Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) has made a commitment to help the Botswana volleyball ladies national team to qualify for the next Olympics.
BNOC Chief Executive Officer Tuelo Serufho said in an interview that they intend to assist the ladies team to qualify for the Olympics. Following the team’s failure to qualify for this year’s Olympics despite putting up a valiant effort in the qualifiers, Serufho said the BNOC found it fit to help the team so that it can compete on the same footing with other top teams.
“We have decided that in the next quadrennial, we will use the team support grant from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) to sponsor the women’ volleyball team’s preparations,” he said.
He added that after the team failed to qualify, the BNOC met with the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) to discuss how best they can help the team, considering the great potential it had shown.
It was agreed that the ladies’ team can only get stronger if they compete against the best in the world; and if they have some players playing in professional leagues.
“If you look at the top five teams in the continent, you will notice that compared to us, they have very strong domestic leagues. Where the domestic leagues are not so strong, they have as many players plying their trade in professional leagues outside their countries. This is not the case with Botswana. Our league is not professional and we have only one player playing in the professional leagues,” Serufho explained. He said as such, in the next quadrennial, focus will shift towards taking the ladies’ volleyball national team for regular camps to play against volleyball powerhouses in the world.
“Our plan is to give them the necessary exposure as well a chance to impress professional teams. Our hope is that through these training camps, they will catch the interest of scouts and get themselves professional contracts with teams outside the country,” Serufho said.
The BNOC CEO said considering that the IOC team support grant may fall short, the BNOC will use the friendships they have with other National Olympic Committees (NOCs) to help meet the shortfall. For his part, BVF President, Dan Molaodi, confirmed that the BNOC has committed to helping the teams qualify for the next Olympics.
”If we want to challenge the best in the game, we have to train with the best. As such, part of our preparation plans will concern game arrangement against the best volleyball teams,” Molaodi explained.
Where possible, Molaodi said the BVF will look at running mini tournaments, where they will invite the best continental volleyball teams. “Our expectation is that through these initiatives, scouts will also come around to scout for talent and hopefully, some of our talent will be snapped by professional teams,” the BVF President said. News of the BNOC commitment will be welcomed by the BVF ladies team players and technical staff, who have previously opined that they need a couple of professional players and a chance to train with the best if they are to compete against the best. Speaking recently after the team’s failure to qualify, Botswana volleyball ladies captain Tebogo Sejewe called for more exposure and exportation of players to professional leagues. “What we have to do is to try and export our talent to the professional leagues so that they can develop mental fortitude. If you look at countries like Cameroon and Kenya, their teams are just like ours. However, the difference between us and them is that they have up to seven players in their teams playing professionally and this helps them as these players have the ability to turn the game in their favour when they need just a little bit of quality to win games. It is the same with countries like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia. If we can have at least four players in the professional setup, we can surely bring back great results,” Sejewe said.