Sunday, February 5, 2023

Mares aspire to make Olympics debut

The men’s football national Under 23 team has failed to qualify for the Paris 2024 Olympics. This now leaves the senior women national team, the Mares, as Botswana’s only hope to send a football team to debut at the Olympics.

Over the past decade of its evolution, the local women have shown they are capable of making the impossible possible. Without extensive investment, the ladies managed to qualify for their first ever Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

Now as Paris 2024 Olympics approach, expectations would be high for the local ladies to beat the odds. But even before the qualification starts, the Mares look to be at a disadvantage. There is uncertainty over their preparations for the upcoming Olympics. Elsewhere, some of the countries they will potentially face on the road to Paris 2024 Olympics are preparing.

Since the Total Energies Women’s Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON) ended in July, The Mares have so far played COSAFA games and the Independence game against Namibia. From then on, nothing much has been said of the team. No plans or resources have been availed.

Addressing this matter, Botswana Football Association (BFA), Technical Director (TD) Tshepo Mphukuthi says the association is still yet to get answers on how best to prepare the team. He says they are praying for resources to be availed as a lot needs to be done if ‘The mares’ are to really make a mark.

“We have a plan in place but we do not have resources available at our disposal. So, we only have to use what we have at this very moment,” the BFA TD says. “The Olympics are not an event but a process which requires a lot of preparation to qualify for. As long as resources are limited, we will do the best we can, under the circumstances, to reach the destination,” he adds.

Mphukuthi says if the country’s dream of having a football team at the Olympics is to be met, both financial and human resources are a necessity. He says finances are needed to put the team together and also play friendly games across the continent.

Additionally, experts in different fields of the game are also required however they do not come cheap as well. “Psychologist, kinetic sports therapy, physiotherapy, performance analysts, video Analyst etc; these are the people we need when we put the team together. And they need money as well,” he says.

Commenting on the matter, local football analyst Jimmy George says the country needs to do better. “You fail to plan, you plan to fail. This time around the team could have at least played two or three games to keep their momentum going. If finances are the core issue and they seem not to add up, BFA could still ensure they bring the team together and camp while playing with local teams. This way they have the chance to make proper selection of the team while waiting to advance preparation for the Olympic qualifiers,” George notes. 

He further states that the ladies football team has proven that they are able and capable of growth and achieving greatness. Additionally pointing out that, it would still be fine if the National Men’s Senior team and all junior teams finances are decreased in order to assist the team with a chance of qualifying the opportunity it requires.

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