The President of Africa Netball, Tebogo Lebotse has expressed pleasure at the growth African Netball has experienced over the past four years.
In her welcome remarks to mark the start of the ongoing Africa Regional Qualifiers here in Botswana, Lebotse, who is also the President of the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) said since the inception of Africa Netball in 2010, African netball is finally getting the recognition it deserves.
She said prior to 2010, Africa was viewed and taken as a ‘charity case’ by the netballing world, an attitude which she says the continent is working hard to get rid of.
She laid the blame of such a negative view squarely on the shoulders of African Netball, adding that only they can make things right for themselves.
While happy with the progress, the BONA and Africa Netball President said African netball still has a lot of work to do to put its house in order if all the negative perception about it is to be totally wiped away. She however said the continent is slowly moving towards achieving this, citing the International Netball Federation (INF)’s awarding of Africa to host the 2017 Youth Netball World Cup as proof of such.
For her part, the INF Africa Regional Development Officer, Joan Smit, reiterated Lebotse’s assertion that the continent is moving in the right direction.
The Namibian based INF representative said the fact that Africa now has two teams, namely South Africa and Malawi in the World’s top six ranked teams in the World, speaks volumes of Africa’s progress. She said this therefore makes Africa the only continent with two representatives in the World’s top six rankings.
Smit said the aim now is for Africa to have more teams in the top ten rankings in the World. Going into next year’s Netball World Cup which is billed for Sidney, Australia, Smit expressed pleasure at the high number of African teams that will represent the continent.
With both South Africa and Malawi having already qualified by virtue of their international rankings, at least two more teams which will emerge in the top two of the ongoing Africa Regional Qualifiers will then have a berth in next year’s finals.
Smit said these will then be joined by another African team which will be selected to go to the games as a developmental team, thus taking the expected Africa representation at the World Cup to five.
The growth of the sport of netball was also lauded by the BONA Patron, Botlogile Tshireletso. Officially opening the Africa Regional Qualifiers, Tshireletso praised netball for the role it plays on empowering the girl child in Africa. She said this is evidenced by the number of netballers and former netballers who are taking various leadership roles in their countries. The ongoing Africa Regional Qualifiers are expected to end this coming Friday.