Setshedi Botlole-Mmopi, the coach for the U21 national team, says preparations for the World Netball Youth Cup are going well despite few challenges. The WYNC is going to be played in Gaborone, Botswana from the 8th to the 16th of July. The coach said preparations are going well as following the AUSC games in December the team had an early training camp in January. “We used that camp for selections. We identified a squad of 20 players to work with. Even then some players from the July qualifiers and Angola competitions as well as the team captain were not available but we still considered them based on what we know of their previous performance,” she said. Mmopi said they have intensified their preparations. “We had planned a two weeks camp from the beginning of February culminating with weekend match practices to test progress,” she said. The team played several teams in South Africa to test their progress. “The team played in Johannesburg against some local male and female teams, as well as in Potchefstroom against their University team. We intend to play with the latter again and a few more university teams. Their players feature in SA Brutal fruit league so it is good competition for our technical preparations,” Mmopi stated. “Our playing format was not the usual four quarter match. We played an average of six to 15 minutes sections each game as this allowed us to test our various player combinations and some we could see they are worth investing on.”
Mmopi however stated that technical and mental preparedness as well as everything else comes on top of physical fitness. “Physical fitness is the base; it is important to get the team conditioned together as team. Technical preparedness can otherwise be affected by the same disparity prevailing in fitness levels,” Mmopi stated. The team has Kate Carpenter as a technical advisor. “She has been working with the team as she facilitated fitness tests on both the January and February training camps. The February tests reflected improvement for notably those who have been able to train. She has also drawn up individual training programmes for players to train at home,” she said. Botswana Netball Association (BONA) vice president Lorato Thebekgosi shared the same sentiments with her. “The preparations are going well, and our intention is to have another training camp this month.” She acknowledged the challenges at hand such as unavailability of some players in camps more especially secondary school students who are based outside Gaborone. “They have to balance between netball and school. We are trying by all it means not to disturb their studies,” she said. She said in their efforts to curb that challenge they have made an arrangement to bring them close. “As we are speaking, we have one student who studied at Orapa Junior Secondary School but we managed to move her from there to Nanogang Junior Secondary School here in Gaborone; we are taking care of her accommodation as well as other basic needs,” she said. Thebekgosi said they doing all possible to keep the out-of-school players on camp. They have three players who are based at Australia. “Their progress is also monitored. We intend to have a training camp prior to games in order to cater for them,” she said.