The just ended NetballWorld Youth Cup (NWYC) 2017 that was hosted in Gaborone from 8-16 July 2017 has brought new glimpse of hope to women sport in Botswana. This follows the successful and pleasant hosting of the tournament by Botswana Netball Association (BONA). The sterling performance displayed by the national U-21 team also brought hope that Botswana women have got talent that needs to be nurtured. The team finished in the Top 10 against all odds after hard fought for wins over highly placed teams like Jamaica and Cook Islands. All this has opened opportunities not only for the netball team but women sport in the country in general. The Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development Thapelo Olopeng promised government’s continuedsupport towards woman sport in the country. This came as a result of what the minister saw during the tournament that brought together 20 countries into Botswana. Olopeng said the successful hosting of the NWYC 2017 tournament is proving the determination that was put by all parties. “Our team made the country very proud and my ministry will do all it can to support these girls to actualise their dreams in sport,” said Olopeng. The minister professed that after what he saw government will continue supporting women sport. Women sport sponsorship has always been very low in Botswana and the minster called upon the stakeholders to come on board and help government to support them. Olopeng said the hosting of the World Cup gave Botswana a good lesson. He said it will go a long way in helping Botswana to host events of a big scale. “This World Cup has indeed demonstrated that we are one big family that is bound together by sport. We know the great economic values of sport which is why we are ready to support our girls,” said the minister. Batswana had come out in great numbers to support the team which fought hard for a top 10 finish.
Even the visitors were happy with the way Botswana hosted. International Netball Federation (INF) president Molly Rhone commended BONA and the government of Botswana for the good job they did to host the tournament. Team Botswana’s performance is one of the things that caught the eye of the INF president. She said Botswana team was a great team that needs to be nurtured going into the future. “The competition has been very great and interesting. I would like to commend the Botswana team for the performance they put in this tournament. They have been a great team and I have been in talks with BONA president and the minister of sports to try and keep this team together,” she said. BONA president Tebogo LebotseSebego – who is delighted with how the tournament went – said it has opened new opportunities for Botswana. LebotseSebego said now Botswana is known for the hosting capabilities and it will be easier going forward to bid for hosting other competitions. She said the NWYC 2017 has left a great legacy for Botswana in terms of hosting capabilities. Even though she is happy with how everything went LebotseSebego said it is saddening that now the players will be going back to play at the old BONA courts after playing in high class facility. According to her, it would have been even a greater achievement if at the end of competitions, they had a facility left for them to use. She said it was their intention to build a facility but things did not go according to their plan. “However the dream to have such a facility should not end here. We have the plans for the structure we want and we will be working at building this facility going forward,” said LebotseSebego.