The captain of Botswana ladies volleyball team, Tebogo Sejewe believes her team was bungled out of the Olympic qualifiers because of the players’ lack of mental strength. To that end, she has called for local volleyball players to be exposed to professional leagues so they can develop mental strength that will enable them to compete on an equal footing with the best players in the continent.
Speaking in an interview last week, Sejewe said local players are often undone by their psychological weakness when compared to other international players.
“We need to develop their mental strength if we want them to beat the best in the continent. In terms of quality, I believe we have one of the most talented teams in the continent. Our main undoing is our inability to finish off the games when we are in the lead and under pressure from the opposing team,” she said.
She was speaking after the ladies volleyball team failed to qualify for the Olympics.
“If they had mental strength, they could have caused upsets at the just ended Women’s African Olympic Qualifiers.”
She added that the ladies volleyball team’s lack of mental strength was visible when they played against powerhouses like Algeria and Egypt.
“We matched them pound for pound in terms of quality, but we could not finish them off. We have the quality to match countries like Algeria and Egypt, they only beat us with mental fortitude,” said Sejewe.
She explained that the Botswana ladies got complacent and allowed Algeria to come from behind and beat them when they were just a few points from winning. She explained that the Algerian players showed determination and mental strength as they never gave up even when they were trailing by ten points.
“On the other hand, we tend to panic when a team starts pressing us. We then make silly mistakes that end up costing us the game,” Sejewe said.
As a solution, Sejewe proposed for Botswana to export its volleyball talent to professional leagues where they can hone their skills and develop mental fortitude. She gave examples of countries like Cameroon and Kenya, which have up to seven players each playing in professional leagues abroad.
“These players have the ability to turn the game in their favor and win games. All what is needed is mental strength and quality play. It is the same with countries like Egypt, Algeria and Tunisia. If we can have at least four players in the professional setup, we can surely bring back great results,” said Sejewe.
However, the captain said overall she was impressed with the local ladies as they put up a great fight against volleyball powerhouses. The team’s assistant coach, Ruth Mbangwa also agreed that there is need to develop the mental strength of Botswana volleyball players.
“In the game against Algeria, the girls gave their all in the first two sets, but got demoralized and gave up when things got tough in the third set. All we needed was just one mentally strong player to rally the team and finish off the game for us,” said Mbangwa.