Botswana senior women’s netball team, Dinaledi, will be aiming to redeem themselves when they compete at the 2018 Diamond Challenge netball tournament at the Ngoako Ramahlodi Indoor Sports Complex in Limpopo, South Africa next week. The five day tournament is scheduled to take place from November 27 to December 01.
The maiden Diamond Challenge is sanctioned by the International Netball Federation (INF), which presents an opportunity for participating teams to accumulate points and climb up the ladder in the world rankings if they do well. Botswana is currently number 22 in INF rankings.The tournament will see five countries, among them South Africa, Namibia, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana battling for the top honours. SA’s President’s XII will be added to the teams to make them six. Of all the four teams, three are ranked higher than Botswana, with SA at 5th, Zimbabwe 13th, Zambia 17th while Namibia is at 28.
Dinaledi, as Botswana is comonly known, had a disappointing year after performing dismally at the 2018 Pent Series and in the Africa Netball World Cup Qualifiers. The local girls lost four games and won two against Zimbabwe and Namibia at the Pent Series but it was not enough as they failed to earn points to improve their ranking. As if that was not enough, the blue black and white girls continued their poor showing at the World Cup qualifiers in Zambia where they finished in position five out of seven countries with four losses and only two wins. They failed to book a spot at the 2019 World Cup slated for Liverpool, England.
In an interview with this publication, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) vice president Technical Lerato Thebekgosi confirmed the team’s participation at the tournament, “The team needs some game time and for us to be ranked better we need to play high ranking teams. All of the teams we are going to play have a superior ranking compared to us,” she said, decrying lack of funds to drill and prepare the team for the upcoming competition.
“We don’t have enough money but we are engaging private sector companies for assistance. We are appealing to them to assist us. Due to unavailability of funds our team has been training only on weekends in preparation for the tournament,” said Thebekgosi.
The squad is made up of the same players who took part in the World Cup qualifiers. It comprises of senior team players and some Under 21 players, and is under the tutelage of Seipei Gaelesiwe who is a stand-in coach. “It hasn’t been easy bringing the team together due to work commitments for some players who up to now have not yet attended our weekend training sessions. It’s only last weekend that we had a good number of players who attended training though we could not train as much as we had planned due to the heat wave. Expectations are not that much but the aim is that we are going there to compete to the best of our abilities,” said Gaelesiwe.
Gaelesiwe further added that currently they have two injured players being Ntebogang Motlakaleso who has a swollen knee and Tumisang Bagidi also with a knee strain. “The injuries are not that massive so my hope is that by the time we travel they will be all fine,” she said.
The team is made up of Violet Moabi, Tumisang Bagidi, Ogone Lekula, Olebogeng Kuriwa, Gagotheko Tshelametsi, Florance Poane, Kgomotso Matibini, Kelebogile Mangole, Fatimah Dino, Maungo Simone, Letang Magothwane and Ntebogang Motlakaleso