Local hockey supporters have criticized the national team’s performance at the recently held Africa Indoor Hockey World Cup Qualifiers Championships held in Durban, South Africa.
“Officials could have not allowed the players to proceed with the event. Instead, the leaders sent an unprepared national team to a high-level competition while there has been no active sport in Botswana due to Covid-19,” said a fan.
However, Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) has defended the team’s poor performance citing many reasons for such.
Among others, she stated that the majority of players in both teams were making their debut in international competitions.
BHA public relations officer (PRO) Kelly Motsu said 82% of the athletes in the national team were making their first international appearances.
From this perspective, she says it will be easy to assume that the team might as well have been making its first appearance.
Where many believe the team’s performance was embarrassing, Motsu said she believes they played much better as compared to the country’s first appearance.
“The men are playing their first International indoor tournament in the history of Botswana,” she explained.
She said the last time any of the players had a competitive international experience was in 2019 during the International indoor test series for ladies and indoor friendlies for men against Zimbabwe and South Africa clubs.
Locally, the BHA PRO said the last competitive tournament organized by the association took place in December 2020.
As if that was not enough, Motsu said the ongoing situation with Covid-19 disrupted their preparations.
The BHA PRO because of that, coaches did not get enough time to train with their entire teams as they could have wanted.
Despite this, players were able to go through intensive drills to improve tactics, skills and fitness trainings.
Players in the South had to hold their training in Gaborone while those in the North held theirs in Francistown.
She noted that due to the ongoing curfews and time limits in place for meetings, the teams’ training was also very limiting.
Another factor is the uncertainty that came with the lack of financial backing for the team to take part in the tournament.
While BHA has a hockey development plan which is being implemented, the association is faced with financial challenges.
The national team also did not have sponsorship to go to the tournament but the squad received donations from institutions, friends and financial support from parents, Motsu said.