An air of excitement is blowing for local netballers as Botswana Netball Association (BONA) gears up for the launch of the netball league after a two year hiatus as a result of a lack of sponsorship. Despite failing to secure a lucrative sponsorship compared to the previous one, optimism is growing that local netball is once again headed for better days and can now aim to rub shoulders with African netball powerhouses.
Close sources informed Sunday Standard that BONA and long time partners Spar have renewed their matrimonial vows to resurrect the netball league. The last time netball national league was played was in 2015, with Spar as the main sponsor.
“It took numerous attempts to convince Spar for a sponsorship deal as they had lost interest in domestic netball. The sponsors were worried that there is lack of publicity in the game as they wanted to sell their brand but have since agreed to sponsor the league,” insiders told Sunday Standard.
It is said that the sponsorship will witness the winning champions walking away with P30 000 and a floating trophy.
“BONA had no choice but to accept the little that is on the table for the sake of players to play competitive games. Clubs will also be loaned money during the pre season to prepare for the league and the money will be recovered from their prize money at the end of the season. Having a league will keep players fit and ready for national team selection,” the source revealed.
With the league sponsorship now sorted, expectation is that the country will go back to the highs of 2007 when it was regarded as one of the emerging powerhouses in African netball. During that same year, Botswana made history qualifying for the World cup when they contested for the two slots against South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia, Swaziland, Tanzania, Ghana, Lesotho and Kenya.
Over the past few years local netball has struggled to find sponsorship, resulting in a visible deterioration in national team performances. With Botswana currently ranked 21st after a drop in the January International Netball Federation (INF) World rankings, regular league competition is more likely to help raise the competitive level of local players, and eventually the national team.
A press release from BONA last week indicated that BONA netball league sponsorship launch is scheduled tomorrow (Monday) in Tlokweng. “BONA has confidence that the 2018 league sponsorship will go further to endear the game of netball to as many people as possible and, consequently make every netball league match a household discussion,” reads the press release.