The 8th July 2017 marks the re-writing of history as Botswana becomes the first country in Africa to host the Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC). The long wait for the tournament is finally over for Batswana. The first game on Saturday at UB Indoor Sport Arena pits Botswana against Malaysia. News from within Team Botswana camp is that morale is very high and the players are looking forward to go into the history books by winning against the world’s best. Team Botswana has been set a target of at least reaching the semi-finals of the competition. Twenty countries will be battling it out in the competition for the ultimate championship. This competition brings together netball power houses. Coach Setshedi Botlhole-Mmopi believes they have done all they had to in preparing for the games within the time and resources they had. Botlhole-Mmopi said they have had a very great exposure in Singapore and Australia ahead of the games. This gave them the high level of competition which is much similar to the one they will be having during the NWYC 2017 games. Even though the coach is happy with how the preparations went, she raised a few concerns she has. She wished that they could have had tough games towards the start of the tournament. “My concern is that now for the one and a half weeks the team will cool down from the standard they have been in following the Singapore, Australia and South Africa trips,” said Botlhole-Mmopi. She said since the team does not have competitive games it may lose the momentum it had gained.
The other thing that the coach cited as a concern is the fact that the playing turf has not been able to be laid in time for her players to have a feel of it before the games. “It was going to be very good if the players had the opportunity to get familiar with the type of turf that will be used during the games. It is however unfortunate that this was not laid in time for them to,” she said. Nonetheless the coach is optimistic that the ladies will make the country proud. Botlhole-Mmopi believes that she has assembled a very strong and optimistic team that might cause an upsets to some teams. She said the players are fired up and excited of playing in this competition for the first time. Botlhole-Mmopi also believes that the home ground advantage will work to the advantage of Team Botswana but only if Batswana go in large numbers to support their team. “I believe the home ground advantage will not fail to work for the team but this will be possible only if there is adequate support from Batswana at the games,” she said.