Saturday, December 9, 2023

What’s next for Jenny and her girls after Singapore?

After 14 years of trying, Botswana senior netball national team has finally clinched the elusive Singapore Nations Cup 2022 trophy.

Coach Jenny van Dyk’s girls won it in style, convincingly winning all their matches at the tournament.

Under the South African coach, the local girls seem to have got their groove back and were seemingly having fun in Singapore. In their first group stage match of the tournament, the number 31 ranked Botswana got the better of the tournament’s highest ranked team Fiji, beating them 60 – 43. Fiji is ranked 14th in the world.

From then on, it was all Botswana as they next beat Singapore A and Singapore 50 – 31 and 71 – 21 respectively. They then dispatched Malaysia by 67 – 38 before completing the group stages with a 66 – 31 win over Ireland.

In the gold match play-off, Botswana once again faced Fiji. The local girls proved their first match win was no fluke as they once again came tops, beating Fiji 65 – 37.

“The performance of the team is a culmination of many factors. For us, it did not come as a surprise,” Botswana Netball Association (BONA) Public Relations Officer (PRO) Mokeresete Mokeresete says.

One of the reasons for the performance according to the BONA PRO is the team composition. The majority of the team has done duty at both junior and senior national team level. And save for just three players, the team is mainly made of players from Police Netball team and BDF Cats.

“The players know each other. Most of them have played with each other at both club level and national team level. This is why it is easy for them to play so well together,” Mokeresete says.

Another factor has been the resuscitation of the local competitions. After years of no competitions, the return of the league and other competitions has made the players competitive once again. This has made it easier for the coaches to select the best players for national duty.

For all the quality in playing personnel, the influence of coach van Dyk cannot be discounted. “Everyone believes in Jenny. The players, the coaches, the BONA Executive and the public, everyone believes in her. She even knows it.”

“The coach is determined to make the team and Batswana proud. She believes the team should always compete for the podium finish. She believes the only way for this team to improve is if it has the pressure to win. van Dyk is a very competitive coach and she wants the team to also be competitive,” the BONA PRO says.

While people get to see what the coach is doing at national team level, Mokeresete says van Dyk ‘is doing a lot more for Botswana behind the scenes.’ This includes working with local coaches who understudy her.

“She is everything in one. We already have coaches who understudy her at national team level. Aside from that, we also have 14 coaches who recently graduated as level 1 coaches through the South Africa Netball legacy programme. Every time van Dyk comes here for training camps, these coaches are afforded the opportunity to attend her training sessions.”

“All these coaches make appointments to attend such trainings and the coach marks in their logbooks every time they do. This allows them to learn from her. We are benefiting a lot from her,” he concludes.

Meanwhile, the future of van Dyk who is on secondment from Netball South Africa as part of their World Cup legacy programme is yet to be determined. For now, however, it looks like she will be in charge when the country next competes at the Africa Cup which is slated for Uganda sometimes next year.


Read this week's paper