The Botswana ladies Rugby team started their dress rehearsals for the World Cup qualifiers in style as they clinched silverware at the Blue Bulls 7’s tournament in Pretoria, South Africa.
Under the tutelage of assistant coach, Batshabeng Keotetswe, the team chalked up two loses and three wins to emerge third overall in the tournament. The team, which was placed in a pool of four teams that included Tukkies (University of Pretoria), Rio Panda of Namibia and the Blue Bulls Development team, overcame a nervy start to the tournament but reached the tournament’s quarterfinal.
The local ladies, who lost 10 ÔÇô 25 to Tukkies, came back strongly in their second and third games, to beat both the Blue Bulls development team and Rio Panda by the same score line of 12 ÔÇô 0 and to advance to the quarterfinals.
Their dream of reaching the finals was, however, cut short when they lost their quarterfinals clash with the Blue Bulls senior team 0 ÔÇô 41. The result meant the team had to settle for a third place playoff (plate final) against the Tukkies who had beaten them in their first game.
Against the Tukkies, the team shrugged off their losses and avenged their loss to the Tukkies as they hammered them 24 ÔÇô 0.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, the team’s care taker coach, Keotetswe, said he was pleased with the display by the ladies despite the challenges they had faced prior to the tournament.
“We did not train well due to financial problems on the side of the players. They could not attend training as we wished as they could at times not afford transport fees to come for training,” Keotetswe informed Standard Sport.
He says this, coupled with the fact that he had to take to the games only 11 players, out of their desired 18, due to some circumstances and commitments nearly derailed their plans.
The coach, however, says he was delighted with the response he got from the players as they showed great character and belief in themselves. “This is a relatively new team and we are still trying to build it. The good thing is it has improved a lot in the two years of its existence and is showing great potential,” Keotetswe said.
He further said that for this tournament, they had included three new faces in the team. Keotetswe said this is done as they are still hunting for new players to add dimension and bolster the team ahead of the World Cup qualifiers next year.
Meanwhile, team manager Lila Pavey has informed Standard Sport that they will be looking to ensure that the team gets training during the months of December and January to keep them sharp ahead of next year’s qualifiers. She says though the team has shown tremendous improvement in its short existence, it still has a long way to go.
As such, Pavey says they will be on the lookout for more tournaments to give the ladies as much exposure as possible.
Concerning the financial challenges, the team manager says they will be looking for more sponsors to complement the existing Botswana Insurance Company (BIC) sponsorship.
Pavey’s major concern, however, is the lack of proper rugby playing fields where the team can train.
“Our biggest challenge is that we do not have playing fields. This puts us at a disadvantage when we face opponents in a proper playing field,” she said.