The Botswana netball national team has risen one spot in the latest International Netball Federation (INF) rankings.
It is the first time that the country records an improvement in world rankings following six years of a downward spiral.
The latest INF rankings, which were released this month, indicate that the country in now ranked 24th in the world.
Botswana’s worst ranking was 25th which was recorded on INF’s previous ranking released in July last year (2019). The latest rise in ranking comes despite a lack of team activities this year.
The world rankings are based on matches that took place before netball suspension due to the novel coronavirus pandemic. While moving up in world rankings, there was however no upward movement in the continental rankings for Botswana as she remains sixth in Africa.
Only three African countries, being South Africa, Uganda and Malawi are ranked in the top ten netballing countries in the world. South Africa is ranked top in Africa and fifth in the world while Uganda sixth and Malawi seventh respectively. Coming behind the trio are Zimbabwe and Zambia who are placed in 13th and 15th respectively.
Australia are at the top of the radar followed by New Zealand and Jamaica that has toppled England from the spot. England dropped to the fourth spot on the table after gunning down 172 ratings together with rivals Jamaica while Australia scored 207 and 182 for New Zealand.
The national team performance deteriorated just after the 13th World championship in 2011 where they finished placed 13th.
Since then, the country has failed to make it to another world championship, having missed out on the 2015 World Cup held in Sydney, Australia as well as the one hosted in Liverpool, England last year.
In their best performances in the history of the team, Botswana was placed 10th at the 12th world championships that were held in Auckland, New Zealand in 2007.
Speaking to The Telegraph, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) President Malebo Raditladi acknowledged that the sport is going through a rough patch. She says if netball continues to be played as a recreational game, it will be a difficult task to return the sport back to its rightful place in the world rankings.
“Our challenge is that due to financial constraints, we play fewer ranking matches while other nations compete and earn rankings points,” she explains. “If we could play more competitive games, our rankings would change.”
The BONA president says for netball to grow and be competitive, ‘it is critical that it starts being treated professionally.
“We are hoping to change for the better in future so that players can also play the sport as a profession and a lot of sacrifices have to be made to achieve that,” says Raditladi.