Botswana men’s national volleyball team is looking to break a barrier and bring a medal from the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) tournament scheduled to be held in Durban in two weeks time. Botswana volleyball teams have never won medals at big international tournaments like CAN. Their major success was two years ago at Otse Police College where both the men and women’s teams won gold medals. Critics, however, dismissed Botswana’s good run saying it was sheer luck because other strong contenders like South Africa and Mauritius did not turn up for the tournament. Botswana qualified for the CAN tournament after coming second, behind acclaimed regional powerhouse, South Africa at the Zone VI tournament early this year. The Botswana team also failed to bring a medal from the recent All Africa Games that were held in Algiers, Algeria.
Anyway, the most unfortunate thing with the Botswana team at the All Africa Games was the fact that they were pitted against renowned powerful countries from the onset. Despite Botswana being knocked out in the initial stages, they did not lose heavily. They lost most of the sets with slim margins. The last time Botswana volleyball team went to Durban was also two years ago for the CAN qualifications.
On the other hand, the Botswana Volleyball Federation sports development officer, Mission Mereyotlhe, is optimistic that the team will do well in Durban. He said they learned valuable lessons in Algeria which they have to rectify. The team is under the tutelage of Carlos Otta Fellove. Fellove is an experienced Cuban coach and achieved a lot with Cuban national teams. He even groomed most of the incumbent ladies team players. Last year when the ladies team won a silver medal in the Zone VI tournament, it was Fellove who was calling the shots from the sidelines.
The Botswana team that goes into camp this week is bolstered by five Cuban based players. They are Peaceful Seleka, Odirile Sibanda, Reabetswe Jaba, Tshepo Iketeng and Agisanyang Kurwana. Regular inclusion of the players in the team has changed the team’s complexion in the past games. In Cuba, the players are receiving intensive training where they learn a lot about the game. Cuba is the world leading volleyball country in both men and women categories and have won several major international tournaments. The national team is also once again dominated by BDF VI followed by Kutlwano and Mafolofolo.
The complete squad includes the likes of Shadrack Kapeko (Kutlwano), Lee Tshipana (BDF VI), Shadrack Modiakgotla (Kutlwano), Francis Dingwe (BDF VI), Jyiapo Madeluka (Kutlwano), Tabaka Mothudi (Diphatsa), Happy Ribbin (Police), Pogiso Osupile (BDF VI), Prince Matsheka (BDF VI), Thabo Seitshiro (Kutlwano). Coach Fellove will be assisted by Kutlwano coach, Percy Roberts.
Meanwhile the local volleyball league for both men and ladies teams continues to be a one sided affair. As has been the case in the past years, same old teams are leading the pack. In men’s section BDF VI are flying high and have yet to lose a game. They are followed by Mafolofolo and Kutlwano respectively.
In the ladies category, Mafolofolo are once again untouchable as they wallop other teams left and right. Mafolofolo are, however, threatened by the ever rising Kutlwano. If Mafolofolo sleep on their laurels, Kutlwano can easily topple them.