Sunday, May 9, 2021

Botswana volleyball eyes Africa Games as they host Zonal Qualifiers

Botswana Volleyball’s road to this year’s Africa Games starts this coming Tuesday as the country takes on regional countries in the Zone 6 Africa Qualifiers. The games, which are hosted by the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF), will be played at the Ditshupo Hall.

Botswana was called on to host the games by the African Volleyball Confederation (CAVB) after Malawi pulled back from hosting the tournament. Asked why the BVF agreed to host the games under such a short notice, BVF President, Daniel Molaodi, said they looked at the benefits that the country would gain from hosting the tournament. He said after a lot of consideration, the BVF decided to host the games as it is cheaper for Botswana to host than to take its teams to play outside the country.

“We realised that this would help us cut costs. Taking our teams, both men and women would have cost us somewhere in the region of P500 000 while hosting the tournament would only cost us around P300 000,” Molaodi explained. Another reason, according to Molaodi, was to give Botswana teams the much needed home ground advantage in their endeavour to qualify for Africa Games.

With Botswana men’s volleyball team having failed to qualify for the last Africa Games which were held in Mozambique, it is hoped that this time around, the team would use the home ground advantage to make the grade. Though Botswana’s qualification hopes looks much brighter in the absence of powerhouses South Africa and Angola, Molaodi said he would have preferred the two to be in the qualifiers as they would help gauge the country’s right position in the region. “We cannot be outright champions in the region without the two countries. We would have liked for them to be part of these qualifications,” the BVF President explained.

According to the BVF President, aside from the two powerhouses, another country to miss out on the games will be minnows Swaziland. He said only six regional countries, namely, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Zimbabwe and Zambia as well as Botswana will compete in the tournament. Concerning the tournament format, Molaodi said the games will be played in a round robin system, with all the six teams playing against each other and only the teams coming in position one qualifying for the Africa Games. The games will be played daily from 9am until late at night, with at least three matches in both men and women categories being played daily. While fixtures were yet to be released, the BVF President said Botswana will be in action on the first day of the tournament, with the local ladies expected to play Lesotho at 6pm on Tuesday while the men compatriots will play the last game of the day at 8pm against Zambia.

Concerning the venue, Molaodi said only Ditshupo Hall will host the games and preparations are under way. This will be the first time a volleyball tournament will be held at the venue in more than twenty years, with the venue having last hosted the games around 1993/94. He said a playing carpet will be laid at the venue to make it suitable for Volleyball games and spectator stands will also be erected. He said Gaborone was agreed as the only host city for the games as it is a central location and expectations are that it will make it easier for spectators to come to the games. The games are expected to be completed on the 10th of this month.

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