Monday, January 30, 2023

Netball using league games as World Cup rehearsal

Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Head of Operations, Neo Gwafila-Bulayani has said the association is using the ongoing “My Spar, My Botswana” Netball League to gauge its preparedness to host the World Youth Cup next year. 

Gwafila-Bulayani says since the start of the Spar league, BONA has been adhering to the international standards set by International Netball Federation. 

“In our organization of the games we try by all means to adhere to the standards set by INF so that by the time we host the World Cup we will be ready for the challenge,” explained Gwafila-Bulayani.  

She said they have enforced the technical bench to abide by the set standards to get used to what is expected of them when they sit on the technical bench. 

“We are lucky we have a technical delegate who is also competitions manager to guide the technical people on what is expected of them. These days you cannot see a technical person answering a cell phone while on the bench because phones are not allowed in the bench,” Gwafila-Bulayani explained further.

The BONA Head of Operations says every day after matches they evaluate officials’ performance and mark the mistakes so that they are corrected immediately. 

She said the same standards are also in effect in the northern league as BONA wants to maintain the standard uniformity across all regions. “We want to leave a lasting legacy after the World Cup so that the sport of netball can grow further,” she said.

Gwafila-Bulayani said the teams are also doing their best to adhere to the standards they have introduced to familiarize themselves with the professional way of conducting the games. “Teams are reporting to the matches on time and all the games have been starting on time,” she observed. 

Still with netball, My Spar, My Botswana netball league first round came to an end this past weekend. Among the games marking the end of the first round was the much anticipated clash between BDF Cats and UB Crystals. Both teams went into the match having registered no defeat before the encounter. 

BDF cats, which was mostly using their veteran players in the like of Kagisano Mawela, Gagotheko Tshelametsi and Tebogo Radipotsane, did not get it easy on the youthful UB Crystals squad which comprised of Francinah Eyman, Maipelo Mabutho and Violent Onniele among other proved to match the defending champions. 

The first quarter was too close going neck to neck with each taking chances well. The first quarter ended Cats marginally leading 10 ÔÇô 9. In the second quarter it was equally entertaining like the previous one but BDF again ended up taking it, 21 ÔÇô 19 of UB crystals.  On the third quarter from half time BDF Cats maintain the same margin and score another ten to make it 31 ÔÇô 26. The last quarter was no difference from the previous ones as Cats took it with 43 to 34 of UB Crystals.

Cats coach, Neo Ntwaagae was happy with the results; “we had no problem with our opponents. We had no problems from the previous games but UB Crystals was the only team that gave us a better game in terms of strength of opposition. In our league we don’t have much competition.” 

In the end it was a 100% win for BDF as they finished the first round having won all the six matches they played. 

Despite his team’s loss, UB crystals coach Abednico Chetelo expressed happiness with the performance of his youthful squad. “It is a learning curve. We will come up very strong in the coming second round,” he said. 

Though he did not want it to be an excuse he said he did not have the full squad because some were writing examinations, other stay outside Gaborone. “Our team shooter Portia Rasekhumba is out with a fractured hand and we have also lost Tara Matija who went to England for further studies,” he said. Chetelo is however optimistic that their first defeat will not discourage them to compete when the second round starts.

The second round is expected to start on the 22nd of October. 


Read this week's paper