Thursday, February 9, 2023

Jenny’s girls shine in Singapore

There was a time not so long ago when Botswana senior netball national team was among the best in the continent.

Those times may be gone, but there is a flicker of hope the local girls may get back to their lofty perch.

The signs, though a little flicker, were apparent during the Netball World Cup Africa regional qualifiers in August early this year. In the opening match against South Africa, coach Jenny van Dyk’s girls played a blinder of a game.

It was however not to be as they went on to lose to both South Africa and neighbours Zimbabwe, eventually failing to qualify for the Netball World Cup. The foundation was however laid, and the team is building on it.

This is apparent at the ongoing Nations Cup 2022 in Singapore where the local girls are seemingly having fun. Coach van Dyk’s girls are in the tournament as the lowest ranked team. They are currently ranked number 31 in the world, a far cry from a couple of years ago.

On their first outing of the ongoing Nations Cup however, the Botswana girls beat the tournament’s highest ranked team Fiji 60 – 43. Fiji is ranked 14th in the world. As has been since van Dyk took over, the local girls played with intensity and cohesion.

Against Fiji, Fatimah Dino and Letang Mogotlhwane provided the necessary security in defence. This allowed the highly skilled trio of Margaret Banda, Hildah Binang and the recalled Boikanyo Selogetso to cause havoc.

The latter, was not part of the team that did duty at the Netball World Cup Africa regional qualifiers. Now, it seems she is eager to show van Dyk and the Botswana netball fraternity what they missed before. Selogetso can play exceptionally well anywhere in the court, whether in defensive third, centre third or goal third.

Aside from her versatility, Selogetso is highly competitive. She hates to lose and very vocal in the court. To top it off, she is also an accurate scorer. With Binang and Banda also being so highly competitive and mobile with and without the ball, their combination had many asking why Selogetso was not previously called.

In Botswana’s second outing against Singapore A on Monday, the local girls once again showed they are on the upward trajectory. This is despite coach van Dyk mixing up her starting seven to give others a go.

Botswana girls beat Singapore A 50 – 31 to stay as the only team yet to taste defeat ahead of facing the main Singapore senior netball team on Tuesday. Today, they will face Malaysia in their penultimate game. They will close off the tournament against Ireland on Friday.

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