The Botswana senior Netball national team is expected to leave the country tomorrow (Monday) for Northern Ireland to compete at the Northern Ireland four nations’ netball festival.
Described as a first ever International Netball festival in Northern Ireland, the festival will take place from the 31st of this month and finish on the 3rd of November.
According to the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Marketing and Publicity Officer, Kelebogile Maplanka, the youthful Botswana team, which will be comprised of players under the age of 25 years will be expected back home on the 5th of November.
Despite the team going into the tournament against the backdrop of an underwhelming performance by the senior team at the Africa Netball Championships earlier this year, Maplanka said ‘the team is expected to compete satisfactorily and bring back results which will show performance improvement.’
The team only started training this past Wednesday, but the BONA Marketing and Publicity Officer expressed no concerns, saying ‘all players have been actively involved with their teams in the My Spar My Botswana league, so their fitness level is satisfactory.’
She said if the youthful team, which will be captained by the burgeoning 20-year-old goal shooter Tumisang Bagidi plays to win, ‘it will be a great achievement as it will improve the country’s ranking which is currently at 18 in the world.’
“The nations we are competing against are all ahead of us in ranking: Barbados-10, NI – 11 and St Lucia ÔÇô 12… If the team loses but with low margin it will also assist to improve our ranking taking into account the difference in ranking between Botswana and the other 3 nations,” the BONA Marketing and Publicity Officer stated.
Meanwhile, Maplanka says the selection of players under the age 25 years does not mean other players above the selected age range have been axed from the team.
She said the move is a deliberate step taken by BONA to ‘widen its nest in terms of having a larger pool of players to select from in the near future.’ “We want all players to have enough exposure so as to be competitive in their selection and accord coaches a wide variety of player to choose from, hence forming a formidable squad,” Maplanka explained.
The team, which will be coached by Neo Kebuang is comprised of shooters Bagidi (Notwane), Hildah Binang (BDF Cat), Kempho Ngongorego (Notwane) Golebaone Leteane (Jungle Queens) while Kefilwe Bakwinya (Prisons), Kaone Mothowanaga (Flying Doves), Gosego Tsele (Jungle Queens) and Samantha Mbakile will play Mid Court.
The team’s defense will be marshaled by the team’s Vice Captain Francinah Eyman (UB Crystal), Ntebogang Motlakaloso (BDF Cats), Kganetso Kgotlaetsile (Notwane) and Florah Keeditse (Tasc). Kebuang will be assisted by Oteng Masole, with Kamogelo Kesiile being the team Physiotherapist and Tiny Hirschfeld its Manager and Head of Delegation.