When Botswana Netball Association (BONA) leadership sits down to dissect how the country missed out on qualifying for the Netball World Cup, an old age heartache of sport politics will come to play.
Once again, the failure of the senior national netball team puts the BONA leadership under unnecessary spotlight. Not least because of the team performances, but rather on the account of decisions taken at the executive committee level.
Speaking to this publication after the team’s failure this past week, BONA public relations officer Mokeresete Mokeresete said all information on the team and the way forward will come out after the executive committee has met.
Mokeresete said he expects the BONA executive to meet sometime this week to evaluate all things pertaining to the failed bid to qualify. Among these will be the evaluation of the technical team report.
While the BONA executive committee waits to meet and evaluate, a storm is raging on. Many local netball followers are already querying the involvement of South Africa in the qualifiers, lamenting that it disadvantaged Botswana.
Their contention is that had South Africa not been part of the tournament as they have already qualified, Botswana would have had a better shot at qualifying. They believe had Botswana made the Top 4 and played the semifinals, anything could have happened.
This line of reasoning was perhaps exacerbated by the country’s brilliant showing in their first game of the tournament which they lost to South Africa. During the game, the local girls ran the hosts rugged before running out of steam and losing. That gave hope that Botswana could cause an upset.
A loss against Zimbabwe on the second outing however all but snuffed out Botswana’s hopes. Ultimately, the local lasses finished the group stages placed third behind South Africa and Zimbabwe respectively, bringing their journey to an end.
In the aftermath of this, questions arose. In a Facebook post, one administrator queried that South Africa should have not played the Netball World Cup qualifiers as they had already qualified. “If they are allowed to play, it should only be for rankings and their results should not be part of the qualification results,” the administrator noted.
As it is often the case when these matters arise, fingers are now pointing at the BONA executive. Those in the know say the problem arose from the BONA executive’s failure to put forward concerns when the draft fixtures were forwarded to them 14 days prior to the commencement of the tournament.
Apparently, at that time, Botswana should have made comments before the final fixtures, and failure to do such meant they agreed. It is even alleged they ignored an advice to lodge a protest when the time allowed. This foolhardiness, allegedly fueled by internal politics, led to Botswana being at a disadvantage and failing to get a better shot at qualifying.
Now as the BONA plans to sit and evaluate the team’s shortcomings, more explanations will be needed. For now, all eyes will be on the BONA executive and what will be contained in its evaluation report.