The Botswana Table Tennis senior national team is in Cape Town, South Africa, to take part in the Interregional Table Tennis Championships.
The tournament, which replaces the abandoned Malawi Zone 6 championships that failed to take place in September this year, starts today (Sunday) and finishes on the 18th of this month.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport on the eve of the team’s departure, Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) spokesperson, Tiro Motswasele, said they are taking a strong team of ten players to the tournament.
He says the team, which will be composed of five male and five ladies, is expected to take part in individual and team events, mixed doubles as well as men and ladies doubles.
“Of the ten players we are taking to the championships, four of them are our developmental players, two ladies and two male. The core of the team will, however, be made of our senior national team players,” Motswasele informed Standard Sport.
He further said the intention of taking such a team is to give exposure to the sport’s upcoming talent while at the same time sending out a strong team that can bring glory from the championships.
“For these championships, we are targeting to bring a gold medal home, or at least if we have failed, a silver medal,” Motswasele added.
The BTTA spokesperson says though the team has not taken part in any competitive games this year, preparations for the tournament have gone well, adding that the camps they have had as well as the local tournaments have helped.
Motswasele further said though it will be the senior national team’s first outing for this year, the mood within the camp is very high and ‘everyone is excited’.
At least seven countries from the Southern African region, including Botswana, are expected to take part in the championships. The other countries are hosts South Africa, Lesotho, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia.
Motswasele says while all participating teams are difficult to beat, the South Africans will be the team to beat at the championships.
“They (South Africans) are the best team in the region. They have been giving us a hard time in our Zone 6 Championships and we are ranked second behind them,” the BTTA spokesperson informed Standard Sport. The male team will be composed of well-established local players in the form of national champion Bonolo Mabote, Joseph Kgatlampane, Daffrien Goppani, while 15-year-old Wabone Simane and 17-year-old Lame Moeng complete the five-man team.
National champion Boitshwarelo Butale, Matshidiso Osi and Follah Leero will make the core of the ladies team with 15-year-old Gaone Kebidiwang and 17-year-old Namibo Mbulawa also making the team.
The team, which has Kudzanani Motswagole as its manager, will be coached by Sai Maribe and Thebe Selema while Sam Kedisang will be its Head of Delegation.