Sunday, September 27, 2020

Mafolofolo gets token challenge in volleyball league

For the past three years, the women’s volleyball league in Botswana has been a lonely race for Mafolofolo.
Mafolofolo has won almost everything on offer. Be it in the league or in tournaments, they have been unstoppable.

The recent triumph over its rivals, Kutlwano, to claim the women’s southern championship showed that other teams still had a long way to go to catch up with them. At least for this season, Kutlwano was seen as worthy opponents, who indeed put up a brave challenge, but failed as they settled for position two.

Surprisingly, Kutlwano has been the only team that has managed to give Mafolofolo stiff competition in the past three years. When playing against other teams, like Teletswana, Spiking Stars, Dynamites, Kalavango or Victory Seekers, Mafolofolo always waltzes past them with ease. Many volleyball supporters throng volleyball courts when it is Mafolofolo and Kutlwano.

Currently, the bulk of the national team is made up of Mafolofolo players, a sign that they have the country’s best players. And most of Mafolofolo players are also still young and can play for the next ten years if they do not quit early.

The manager of Teletswana Club, Shakes Mogami, lamented the current state of volleyball where one team always wins everything. He said the situation whereby Mafolofolo dominates the sport without tough resistance does not do volleyball any good.
“This is not a healthy situation for the sport at all,” said Mogami. “Other teams need to come up with ideas of making the league too competitive or else Mafolofolo would continue flying high season after season.”

Mogami, however, said Mafolofolo was succeeding because it is an old team with broader structures. He said its former players and administrators rarely desert the team. Mogami said since the team is also a brand on its own, most good aspiring players always head to it making the team’s recruitment exercise easy.

He pointed out that since most of the team players are scattered around the country, they also easily spot good players.

Mogami emphasised that what even makes Mafolofolo a cut above the rest is the fact that their coach, Kabo Ntshinogang, doubles as the national team coach. This, he said, gave them international exposure that other players never experience.
“More than half of Mafolofolo players are in the national team and how do you expect other teams to match them in such a situation?” he said.

Nevertheless, Mogami vowed that Mafolofolo’s dominance would soon come to an end. He said as from next season, Teletswana would be a different team but would not reveal the details only repeating that the team would be unstoppable next season.

Teletswana finished the season in fourth position with 20 points, eight behind Mafolofolo.
On the other hand, Mafolofolo coach, Ntshinogang, attributed lack of experienced players for the others teams’ downfall. He said most of the volleyball players and administrators are youths who need direction.

“Things never go accordingly in an environment where youths dominate,” he said. “This is what is happening with most of our volleyball teams. Most former players and administrators are never there to help the teams and everything is just left to the youths.”

Ntshinogang would not mention names but said some teams had died a natural death. This, he said, was caused by the lack of experienced players.
Although Mafolofolo have many young players, they have experienced ones too. A typical example is Josephine Ntshinogang who has been playing for the team for a long time. She can be relied upon when things get tough for the team.

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Sunday Standard September 27 – 3 October

Digital copy of Sunday Standard issue of September 27 - 3 October, 2020.