Botswana will send a team of 151 members to the 5th Edition of the Supreme Council for Sports in Africa (SCSA) Zone VI under 20 Youth games.
The games will be held in Lusaka, Zambia, from the 7th ÔÇô 17th of December next month. The Botswana team, which will be led by Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) board member, Ookeditse Malesu, as its Chef de Mission, will boast of 103 athletes and 48 officials.
The team will be the smallest for Botswana at the games since 2008. During the last edition of the games in Mbabane, Swaziland, in 2010, Botswana sent a strong 192 member delegation while at the 2008 games in Potchefstroom, South Africa, the country was represented by a 157 members. However, unlike in the past two editions of the games when the country sent a team from eight sporting codes, Botswana will this time around send athletes from nine codes, with Judo being the latest edition to the sporting delegation.
Other sporting codes represented in the team will be athletics, Paralympics Associations of Botswana (PASSOBO), Boxing, Football, Netball, Swimming, Basketball and Tennis. While Botswana has seen a steady increase and improvement over the games’ past two editions, there are no high expectations from the country for the team to exceed the games’ last edition medal tally.
During the 2008 games in South Africa, Botswana came fourth, amassing 31 medals, 5 of which were gold, 15 silver while 11 were bronze. The country then upped its game in the 2010 edition of the games in Swaziland, coming in 3rd position and bringing home 51 medals, of which 15 were gold, 12 silver and 24 bronze.
For this year’s edition of the games and with the number of delegation reduced , the country has set itself a target of 47 medals.
Speaking at the launch of the Botswana team on Friday, BNSC Executive Committee Vice President, Professor Martin Mokgwathi, said while this year’s contingent is smaller than in the past two editions, there is a lot of quality in the team. Mokgwathi described the team as “a vital group to Botswana’s aspirations of sports excellence”, adding that “they are a focal point of the country’s success at the next major games such as the 2016 Olympic Games”.
He said it is at games such as these where Botswana’s future stars gauge their development progress on their way to international stardom.
“Athletes, like our soccer stars, such as Ofentse Nato and Mogakolodi Ngele, who are trading their talent in South Africa, have represented Botswana at these games,” Mokgwathi explained.
For his part, Botswana team’s Chef de Mission said preparations for the games have been on course since last year December.
Some of the athletes expected to carry the country’s hopes include the country’s current Under 17 football team, which is showing a rich vein of form in the Africa Youth qualifiers, the boxing team, which has four athletes who have excelled during this year’s Interclub championships, and the Keone Mooka Mageu National Championships.
Malesu said Botswana team has had various training camps ever since the commencement of preparations, adding that the team’s final camp will be held from the 28th of this month till the 4th of December, before heading off to Zambia.