In a bid to help prepare the national netball team for the World Netball Championships (WNC), the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) will next weekend host a tri nations tournament to help the local ladies to ‘gauge themselves against their would be opponents.’
The two-day tournament, which will be hosted at the Thebephatshwa Airbase Indoor gymnasium, will be attended by World Championships hosts Singapore as well as South Africa, both of whom have been put in the same group with Botswana at the event.
Speaking in an interview, BONA president, Tebogo Lebotse, said the tournament ‘is a build up to the world championships’, which will be held in Singapore this coming July. Lebotse says as such, the tournament has been sanctioned by the International Federations of Netball Associations (IFNA) and will therefore help improve the ranking of teams as it is a ‘ranked tournament.’
The BONA chief says she is, therefore, expecting teams to bring their full strength squads for the tournament.
On why they chose teams that have been put in the same group with Botswana at the championships, Lebotse says the intention is to see how the local ladies will fare against their opponents while also allowing the technical team to assess their group opponents.
“The game against Singapore is very critical in that we will play them (Singapore) in the opening game of the world championships. We therefore have invited them to play here so that we get to know them before we face them at the championships,” Lebotse said.
With regards to South Africa, Lebotse says they are one of the highest ranked teams in the world and playing them will help measure how the local ladies can fare against physical and skilled sides like Jamaica. Apart from helping prepare local ladies for the championships, the BONA president says the tri nations’ tournament will also help determine the country’s readiness to host bigger international events.
If things go according to plan, Lebotse says they intend to turn the tri nations’ tournament into an annual event. So far, the BONA chief says the biggest challenge they are facing in their preparations for the tournament is lack of facilities, something which has forced them to resort to the Thebephatshwa airbase facility which is the only facility big enough to host international netball events. She, however, says even though the facility is big enough, it still falls short of being of international standards, more so in regards with its floors. Lebotse says international tournaments are played on wooden sprung board (wooden floor), something which is not available at the Thebephatshwa airbase facility. She says as such, for this year’s tri-nations’ tournament, BONA will be ‘hiring’ the wooden floor from South Africa, a process which the BONA president has described as ‘a logistical nightmare.’ Lebotse says as such, BONA is in talks with a South African company that produces the wooden floors to see how feasible it is ‘for BONA to acquire its own wooden floor.’