The dismal performance of most of Botswana teams is mainly attributed to a lack of international exposure. Most national teams in Botswana compete in high level games after not playing enough international games or having played minnows who otherwise do not give them much needed practice.
Several local teams do not want to fall into the same trap before the looming All Africa games which will be held in Algeria in July. Leading the pack is the men’s volleyball team that qualified for the first time. The Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) is working around the clock and in three weeks time they will be sending the men’s national team to Cuba to sharpen them up.
Cuba is a volleyball powerhouse and dominates at almost all levels world wide.
According to the BVF sports development officer, Mission Mereyotlhe, the team will go for a three-week intensive training session in Cuba before heading for Algiers.
“The team will be leaving on June 11 for Cuba and from there they will go straight to Algeria. They will play most games with most local teams including the developmental ones. It has since come to my attention that some countries will also be camping in Cuba and there is a possibility for Botswana to play against some of them. As you might also be aware, Cuba is a great volleyball nation and I am optimistic that our boys will learn a lot before the crucial AAG,” he said.
Mereyotlhe emphasised that the team will be reinforced by five Botswana players based in Cuba. The five players are Peaceful Seleka, Odirile Sibanda, Agisanyang Kurwana, Tshepo Iketeng and Reabetswe Jaba.
Mereyotlhe said the team selection would be finalised before leaving for Cuba. Currently, there are eleven players in camp excluding the Cuban based ones.
The renowned faces in the current team are, Johannes Ralegoreng, Prince Matsheka, Francis Dingwe, and Tabaka Mothudi.
The team is currently under the tutelage of Cuban born coach, Otta Fellove. Fellove was previously with the ladies team where he did well. He took over from another Cuban, who has since gone back to join his country’s national team.
Botswana qualified for AAG after finishing second to South Africa at the Zone VI tournament that was held in Namibia early this year. By virtue of South Africa having already booked the ticket to the AAG before the Zone VI games, Botswana then got the green light after qualifying for the finals.
Meanwhile, the ladies missed qualifying for the games by a whisker after losing to South Africa in the finals. Unfortunately for them, the South African ladies had not yet qualified for the games.
If recent developments in boxing circles are any yard stick, the boxing team might bring something from the games. Most veteran boxers like Gilbert Khunwane, Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza have since called it a day and the young ones look to have fitted in well in their elders’ footsteps. In February, they did well at the Zone VI games and dominated 98 percent of the categories. Currently, they are in Madagascar for the African Championships and they had a good start. Some of the likely candidates for Algeria are Gomotsang Gaasite, Thato Batshegi, Mmoloki Nogeng, Moabi Mothiba and Herbet Nkabite. It is, however, not yet clear whether another veteran, Khumiso Ikgopoleng, will make it to Algeria because he did not participate in the Zone VI games.
On the other hand, the karate team is busy preparing for the Zone VI that will be held in Maputo Mozambique. Last year, they almost swept the boards and it is likely that this year they might do the same. The coming Zone VI tournament would actually measure the team’s preparedness. Karate is also in the same predicament as boxing. Popular veteran Otto Tafa who won a bronze at 2003 has also since called it a day.
The athletics team, however, has not been finalised. But the team is busy preparing and some of the athletes are competing across the African continent in several categories. The Botswana Athletics Association’s Bobby Gaseitsiwe is, however, adamant that the team would even surpass the 2003 record. He said when they did well in Nigeria most of their athletes were not known and there might also be a few surprises at this year’s games.
The games will run from July 13 to 23.