The Botswana Netball Association (BONA) is embarking on a bold and firm plan to develop netball from grassroots level in the country.
The association has, in a space of two weeks, hosted two international coaches and consultants, Joanna Binns and Anita Navin, to conduct performance coach and player development workshops.
The workshops’ main aim was to help the association in its endeavours to establish a Talent Identification programme and pathway from the early age.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, BONA president, Tebogo Lebotse, identified the workshops as only the beginning of her associations plan to come up with a defined pathway to develop players, coaches and umpires as well as the sport of netball locally.
The BONA president says developing able coaches to help at primary schools, where grassroots development is, holds the key to the success of netball in the country.
She says while netball, just like football, is well established at the grassroots across the country, the problem is that netball has no clearly defined development structures for both players and coaches.
“As netball, we rely on the Botswana Primary Schools Sports Associations (BOPSSA) to nurture talent. However, we have not empowered BOPSSA on what and how to train children at an early stage and as a result we have a glaring gap in our development structures,” Lebotse told Standard Sport.
She says the result of this has been the production of very talented athletes with no tactical acumen to compete effectively in the international arena.
The BONA head says their aim now will be to introduce mini netball in primary schools; something which even she believes will be a very daunting task.
Lebotse says to achieve this ambition, they will have to come up with structures that are compliant with the local environment. She says BONA will try to borrow from the existing structures like Future Fences and High Five, used in New Zealand and England respectively, and adapt them to local environment.
The BONA president further told Standard Sport that it is her association’s ambition to see progression in their plans by the year 2012 and to have it fully entrenched in 2014.
While admitting that financial constraints do exist and do pose a major problem to their development plans, the BONA chief says the problem should not be used as an excuse for failure to do what should be done. The BONA president says as a starting point, the eleven coaches, who completed the workshops conducted by Binns and Navin are in collaboration with the two international coaches coming up with a generic document to map the way forward for netball development in the country. On other development related issues, BONA has adopted the Botswana Integrated Sports Associations (BISA) Under 17 netball team as part of its National Squad Support Programme.
According to the BONA president, this latest development came as a result of their interaction with Navin.
She says during their talks, Navin frankly told her that they should consider investing more in the U17 team because they still have the potential and ability to develop. She says when the Confederations of Schools’ Sports Associations in Southern Africa (COSSASA) tourney failed to materialise, they decided to keep the team in camp as a future national team investment.
She says the team, together with the National Under 19 team, will be closely monitored by BONA. Should this new pet project work out, Lebotse says they will avert a situation similar to when they last participated at the under 21 World Championships and registered heavy losses.
“I am confident that we can achieve all we want. The only risk in my opinion lies on us as the administration not being able to follow through on our plans,” Lebotse said.