The effects of not having an active league seem to be catching up with Botswana’s national U-21 netball team at the on-going Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers in Gaborone. Team Botswana lost its second consecutive game, going down 33-66 against South Africa on Tuesday. This follows a 35-42 loss to Zambia on Monday evening. The team, which started the campaign in a rather promising mood by beating Lesotho 66-9, had no chance against the tougher South Africans who were well organised, strong and physical. The neighbours from the south were very clinical throughout the game, taking the lead from the first whistle and keeping it to the end.
Coach Kagisano Mawela’s girls, however, were not hopeless as they fought with all they could to take the game to their opponents. They showed class and composure. Botswana Netball Association (BONA) has not had netball league for years now and this might be affecting the players’ development, strength and stamina. After the win over Lesotho, Mawela said in an interview that they were not under any pressure as they are preparing for the coming competition in 2017. Mawela said they are currently trying different combinations for the 2017 World Netball Youth Cup. Team Botswana, which qualified for the tournament as hosts, will have to work hard to be in the level of playing tougher countries such as England and Australia.
Botswana used to be among the top African power houses in netball and the envisaged return of the netball league is expected to help restore the country’s pride. The next game that Botswana will play is against Namibia on Wednesday before taking on Uganda on Thursday. On Friday the local girls will tussle it out with Malawi before closing up the competition against Zimbabwe on Saturday.