Even before the advent of the Covid-19 pandemic into Botswana’s shores two years ago, lack of sponsorships had driven the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) leagues into a near comatose state.
Faced with what looked like the inevitable demise of a once proud sport, the BVF leadership undertook some rebranding exercises to attract sponsors. When the pandemic arrived however, things only got worse. Planned meetings with sponsors were put on hold. Elsewhere, facilities were closed in a bid to curb its spread and protect the general public.
“Volleyball had financial struggles before Covid-19. In response a rebranding exercise was undertaken in order to attract different partners to our different products such as tournaments, league and national team programs,” BVF Vice President Administration Ndibo Lebala revealed.
“Unfortunately, the exercise stalled when BVF were to engage in face-to-face discussions. The pandemic’s uncertainty rendered plans for league route not feasible as the disease has the potential to stretch between predicted periods of different waves of the virus,” he explained.
Despite all these challenges, Lebala is optimistic volleyball will reach new heights this year. The sporting code has already communicated and shared its return to play plan with its stakeholders.
The return to play guidelines were tested with the national beach volleyball contests. The two-weekends tournament started on the 29th and 30th January 2022, and concluded on the 5th and 6th February 2022.
“With less risk in this type of volleyball, BVF believes that beach volleyball is the right platform to get going and employ tools for Covid-19 control before opening up for large numbers of players. There are various local activities lined up including the national volleyball competition,” Lebala explained.
Following the successful trial event, the BVF Vice President Administration is now planning on commencing its indoor volleyball competition this month of February. “the volleyball tournament will run for a longer period as compared to the previous cup competitions, this will allow teams more play time and exposure of BVF product to potential partners and sponsors.”
Lebala said the indoor competition will also give the national team coaches the opportunity to select teams to represent Botswana at the newly formed Zone VI national teams Cup as well as the CAVB challenger cup coming in July 2022.
Volleyball plans for under 20 (U20) teams to go into camp in April as they start their preparations for the region 5 games scheduled for 2nd to 11th December 2022 in Lilongwe, Malawi.
The resumption of activities is also expected to aid local qualifying clubs with an opportunity to once again compete at the Zone VI club championships after a two-year absence. The regional competition is scheduled for Lusaka, Zambia from 11 to 21 December 2022.