Just a mere two weeks after being granted the host status for the 2017 Under 21 Netball World Championships, the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) is strategically placing itself to successfully host and compete during the tournament.
In what the BONA executive sees as an opportunity to fast forward the development of netball in the country, the association will be undertaking some initiatives to try developing players with an eye on the games as well as the future of the senior national team.
Speaking in an interview, BONA President, Tebogo Lebotse said the association has already put in motion plans to ensure that the team that will represent Botswana during the games will compete well and for the first time progress towards the tournament’s quarter finals. With Botswana hosting the 2nd Africa Youth Games next year, Lebotse said they have already talked with the games Organising Committee (BAYCOG) to include Netball in the games with an eye on helping the sport to grow. She said the Africa Youth Games together with the 2015 COSANA and Botswana Games as well as the 2016 SCASA games to prepare the team. To ensure that a competitive team is assembled, Lebotse said the association is working with the Botswana Integrated Sports Associations (BISA) and the Botswana Primary Schools Sports Associations (BOPSSA) to identify young talent that can be taken nurtured for the national teams.
“We have already identified some of the kids and these will be taken into the School Sports Centres of excellence so they can be developed further,” she said. With the uninspiring performance of the country’s senior national team at the Africa Netball Championships still fresh on the mind, the BONA President said the association will go further in their preparations as they seek solutions to the shortfalls of the country’s senior national netball team on the international arena.
“We will be going further out to scout taller players who we can develop and add to our defence. The past games have taught us that while we produce skilful players who can easily outmanoeuvre their opponents in the field of play, we always fail because our defenders are short and they struggle against taller opponents from other countries. Our intention is to find players, even if not supremely talented to add height and strength to our defence and scouting them and developing them with an eye on the 2017 Under 21 games will go a long way in solving this problem,” Lebotse explained.
She said ever since last year, BONA, together with BOPSSA and BISA have been collecting data of prospective young targets, something she says has brought to their attention the vast talent available in the country. Meanwhile, the BONA President has expressed confidence that the country’s facilities are capable of hosting the games. With at least 20 countries expected to grace the country during the 2017 tournament, Lebotse said they are not worried about the capability of hosting. “We will be benchmarking from the AYG games next year on how to host and we believe the experience we will get from there will enable us to successfully host the games. In terms of playing courts, the University of Botswana will be soon completing its court, which will be of world class standards and we expect to be able to use it during the games,” she said.
With Botswana hosting next year’s AYG, the hosting of the 2017 Under 21 World Cup games is expected to further elevate the country’s viability to host major events.