After a not so convincing display by Botswana National U-21 team at the recent Netball World Youth Cup qualifiers, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) is stepping up the team’s preparations. The association has kick-started a nationwide scout at constituency teams level in a bid to unearth new talent for the team. Botswana will be hosting the World Cup in October 2017. BONA has to come up with a team that will represent the country well at this tournament that will attract top netball teams from 16 countries. As hosts, Botswana is going all out to ensure that it excels. BONA Vice President (Technical) Lorato Thebeyakgosi said the objective of the nationwide scouting is to unearth new talent. However, some are of a view that it is already too late for scouting. Nonetheless, Thebeyakgosi said it is not too late.
She explained that “the national team has to be made up of representatives from across the nation, hence the move to scout across the country.” She insisted that it is not late for new players as it has been evident with the current Goal Shooter (GS) Cheludo David. “She joined the team just before the qualifiers and she did very well at the games. This is an example that it is not late for others that we might find out there,” she said. The young David was identified at the last Botswana Games held in Francistown in December 2015. Thebeyakgosi said Botswana has a lot of talent that BONA has not been able to unearth it because of the inactive league. BONA mostly gets its national players from the teams that play in the league and since the league has not been active players could not be identified. It is for this reason that BONA has taken the decision to scout outside their normal catchment area. The scouting started this weekend in the Tswapong area and will move on to Maun/Shakawe region on the weekend of the 17th September 2016.
Thebeyakgosi said the identified players will be put through training camps to get them into shape. She said they have planned to conduct this before the World Cup qualifiers but that could not happen due to financial constraints. The association has also come up with other initiative to step up the development of the young team. Three of the U-21 players are currently with the senior national team in Singapore for the on-going Mission Foods Nations Cup 2016. The three are Boikanyo Selogetso, Katlego Dipatelelo and Kgomotso Matibini. Thebeyakgosi said this is to give the players a chance to compete at high level competitions to build their strength. The players are with their coach Judith Mawela who will be monitoring their performance at the tournament. Mawela will attend a coaching seminar in Singapore to hone her coaching skills. Thebeyakgosi said this is to equip the coach with expertise that is needed to develop the players going forward. “Our aim target is not only 2017 but beyond. This is why we want to train coaches so that they can help improve the state of our teams in Botswana,” she said.
The U-21 team might also be lucky this time to get an international coach to work with them prior the World Cup in October 2017. Thebeyakgosi said the coach should have been in Botswana right now but the person who was identified turned down the offer at last minute. “We are still in consultation with others and we are hopeful that by January a coach will be here,” Thebeyakgosi said. Quizzed if this will not be too late, she reiterated that BONA is not only targeting 2017 but beyond.