Botswana produced one of the her best performances ever at the just ended Africa Schools Individual Championship in South Africa; winning eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
The results are record breaking for Team Botswana as they have managed only nine medals in the 2016 and 2017 editions. This means Botswana has successfully defended the title they won last year in Zimbabwe.
The gold medalists were won by WFM Besa Masaiti in the Under 17 Girls, Ruth Otisitswe (Under 15 Girls), Refilwe Gabatshwarwe (Under 13 Girls), Atlang Mosweu (Under 11 girls) and Laone Moshoboro (Under 9 girls). Iphazha Masala also showed supremacy in the Under 11 Boys while Orefile Moatshe and Keaobaka Rankwane won in Under 7 boys and girls division.
Theo Mhate won the only silver medal of the team in the Under 9 boys. Bronze Medalists winners were WFM Naledi Marape, who was competing in boys Under 13, and Ofile Masilo (Under 11 Boys). WFM Marape said in an interview that competing against boys was tough.
"Playing the under 13 boys was hard looking at the fact that I was the only girl playing with the boys. Winning the bronze medal is truly an honour. In the coming years I hope to play in higher sections and give the boys good competition. I aim to get a higher title and even get one for male like a FM (Fide Master).This is because playing with boys will help me to elevate to higher levels going forward and gain more confidence whilst playing against females," said Marape.
For his part team coach International Master Providence Oatlhotse said he was thrilled with the performance.
"The future is bright for us as Botswana but I am still convinced we had a chance to scoop 15 medals if my work was not interrupted by some pop-up coaches. I request that I be left alone to do my work that I know very well for more than 10 years as a head coach I'm good at tapping in to use the skill and knowledge of their former students. I know how to harness their gift with minimal changes in their previous repertoires. Furthermore it's about being able to take the players to the next level in their game- this is of utmost importance so that they can appreciate the game better at the same time build a sustainable repertoire that the player can use for many years to come," he said.
Oatlhotse added: "In short my feeling is that young players do not break-into the senior national team because coaches do not find the right time to introduce them to professional grown-up's openings or training habits when they are about 13 years old, by the time they are 15-16 years, players whom the country has invested in so much must be making their debut into the senior national team and they need to have at least a base of experience with grown-ups".