The Botswana Bridge Federation (BBF) successfully hosted its first event of the year; the Open Pair’s tournament in Gaborone over the weekend at the University of Botswana (UB). The event attracted 28 players representing different clubs from all over the country and was open to both youth and senior players.
Mbakisi Malilo, BBF Public Relations Officer (PRO) explained in an interview that the main aim of the tournament was to develop the sport locally and familiarize players with its dynamics.
“We want to lay a strong foundation for every Motswana who has interest in bridge. We want them to understand and master the sport because it’s new in Botswana,” he said.
Out of 14 pairs that were competing in the tournament, Tebogo Kubanji and Allison Davis of Gaborone Bridge Club emerged the champions with 66.44 percent, taking home gold medals and P1 200 prize money. Modisaotsile Dikgang and Benny Dedele, also of Gaborone Bridge Club, finished second with 60.65 percent, scooping silver medals and P1 000, followed by national team regulars Letsogile Mafa and Keoagile Chamo who won bronze medals and P800. While the BBF competed in almost every international tournament in the Bridge International Federation (BIF)’s 2015 calendar of events, it failed to bring home any medals. However, Malilo stated that this year they won’t be participating in any international tournaments because they want to first establish the sport locally.
“Coming home empty handed from last year’s international tournaments was a learning curve for us. Therefore we found it fit to go back to the drawing board to equip our players with the necessary skills. We also want to form a strong national team that can represent the country at international level,” he said.
In that regard, Malilo noted that they intend scout for new talent by hosting local tournaments across the country. He added that they are working around the clock to professionalize the sport in order to attract and produce quality players who will be recognized worldwide. BBF has adopted a new national team selection criteria in which players will be rated based on the total points they accumulated in every local tournament they played in.
“We will be selecting national team players based on their individual performance and the total number of points they obtained in local tournaments. We have also introduced two new events in our calendar specifically for women. These are the Women in Bridge Workshop and the Women’s Tournament,” concluded Malilo.