Sunday, May 29, 2022

Netball looks to All Africa Games for redemption and development

After failing to achieve their top ten finish targets at the just ended World Netball Championships in Singapore, the Botswana national netball team has now shifted its focus to doing well at the upcoming All Africa Games (AAG) due to be held in Mozambique at the beginning of September.

Despite Botswana finishing 13th at the World Championships, way behind their intended target, team coach Seipei Gaelesiwe was impressed with the local girls’ performance.

“We played six championship games and three friendly games while in Singapore. We managed to win five games, three in the championships and two in the friendly games and this shows we did fairly good,” Gaelesiwe said. Commenting on what made them fail to reach their target, the national netball team mentor said the major weakness in her charges was their mental preparedness, which let them down at crucial stages in big matches. “Against South Africa in the first round, we led them by the end of the first quarter. When they (SA) came from behind to lead by four points by the end of the second quarter, we seemed to give up and that cost us the game,” the coach opined. “Against Wales in the playoffs, we did very well and we were leading them by at least four points by the crucial fourth quarter. We, however, let them come back at the very crucial last minutes and they went on to edge us out by a single point,” coach Gaelesiwe added.

Looking ahead, the coach says the world championships have given them much needed game time as they will be seeking glory at the All Africa Games where they are expected to face tough competition, more especially from their nemesis South Africa as well as Malawi.

“We need to plan beyond AAG and thus we intend to rope in some junior national team players into the AAG team along with the experienced senior players so as to build for the future,” Gaelesiwe said.

She added that while they want to win at all costs at the upcoming Africa games, they will not be blinded by the desire and thus would like to use the stage to groom future national team players.

Meanwhile, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president Tebogo Lebotse says while the team performance was good, they could have performed even better but were let down by their technical ability at crucial moments.

“Our target of finishing in the top eight or ten was very ambitious, more so when looking at the caliber of opponents we had to beat to get there. Our playoff game against Wales (ranked 8th in the world), was very critical and losing to them by a single point after leading them by at least four points towards the end of the match was very sad. It showed us our technical shortcomings, which I believe we have to rectify if we are to do better in the future,” the BONA President said. Lebotse says to improve on this aspect of Botswana’s game, they are in negotiations with a coach from New Zealand to come and work with both coaches and players in Botswana for at least six months.

She, however, says they have no intention of hiring a foreign coach to take over the national team, saying all they want is a coach who can help upgrade the technical ability of coaches at club level and at national team level, something which she believes can change the fortunes of netball in Botswana.

Concerning the upcoming Africa games, Lebotse says it will give the national team an opportunity to try to use the experience from the World Championships as they try to build for the future. Lebotse further added that it will also give BONA an opportunity to bring in youngsters who can be used in the future in preparation for the 2015 World Championships.

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