The senior national netball team co-coach, Ntebogang Mocuminyane, is optimistic that despite missing influential players, her charges will hold their own against the continents best when they compete at the African Netball Games.
Botswana’s senior netball national team leaves for Tanzania today (Sunday) without some of its tried and tested team players due to various circumstances.
The players, who were part of the teams that competed at the World Championships in Singapore as well as the All Africa Games in Mozambique, are out of the team due to injuries and other commitments.
Speaking in an interview, the team’s co-coach said the players include the team’s captain Portia Rasekhumba, Violet Moabi, Florah Keeditse, Botlhale Moeng, Thulaganyo Retshabile as well as Ogone Gabaratane.
While the team will sorely miss the services of all these players, the team’s co-coach is buoyant that the team can still compete. The absence of the goal shooting duo of Rasekhumba and Moabi in particular is expected to leave a lot of pressure on the only remaining tried and tested goal shooter Tebogo Radipotsane.
The latter, who has just returned from Singapore, will be expected to lead the country upfront, and is expected to partner and guide relatively inexperienced and youthful goal shooters who are expected to fill the positions of Rasekhumba and Moabi. Despite the obvious challenges the team will face in the absence of all the above mentioned players, Mocuminyane is optimistic that the youthful players can do the job.
“While we agree that this is a challenge, we would rather prefer to look at it as an opportunity to look at our development players and throw them in the deep end as part of their development,” the team’s co-coach explained. “In our view, the only difference between the tried and tested players and the youthful players is international experience. Apart from that, these youthful players compete in the same league with the experienced players,” she continued.
Mocuminyane says throwing the youthful team players at the deep end will also help their growth as well as that of netball in the country. On other issues related to the team preparations, Mocuminyane says they have faced a lot of challenges in their preparations. Some of the challenges faced include lack of adequate preparation time, players’ fitness or lack of as well as lack of match practice.
“As with any other sporting codes in the country, we have had a limited time to prepare as our players are not professional players. For these games, we had to gather our team in a hurry due to the limited time we had,” she explained.
On the players’ fitness, the team’s co-coach says due to the netball league being on a break, the players are not fit enough. She says with the local league yet to resume, most of the players have been inactive since December last year and only stated playing when called into camp recently. She says due to the short time they have before the games, they therefore could not put the players under intensive training as this could have fatigued them before the games begin. “We would have also liked to have played some friendly games but we could not do it due to the limited time we have had to train,” she explained.
With all the challenges in mind, Mocuminyane says their target at the games will be for the team to maintain its ranking in the continent.
“We will be going there to compete, not to take part. Our intention will be to win and not to lose games or our ranking. We have talked to the team about this and they know it,” Mocuminyane said.