Four local clubs – Police VI, Mag-Stimela ladies and Kutlwano men and women – have booked themselves places at the Africa Inter club championship which attracts best clubs from Africa's six zones.
As of now the dates and host of the competition are yet to be announced but the tournament normally takes place between March and April. In the past years, North and Central African states have been playing host to the tournament so expectations are that the tournament will come to Southern Africa this time around.
Police VI qualified for the tournament by virtue of being the Zone VI Champions which just ended a week ago in Durban, South Africa. Ditau showed supremacy at the regional tournament winning all their games to be crowned the champions. According to Police VI Coach Shimaka Ngwanaotsile, they will break for festive holidays before resuming preparations in January.
"Yes, we have qualified for the tournament and the thing is I'm going to release players for festive because they need rest. We will start our preparations next year January. About raising funds, the manager is in a better position to respond to this one. But i can say we are waiting for invitation from our federation that's when we will map the way forward in terms of some of preparations we want for team," said Ngwanaotsile.
Kutlwano clubs are also making a return to the tournament after an eight-year hiatus. The last time Big House men played in the tournament was in 2010 while the ladies made their last appearance in 2012.Both Kutlwano ladies and men qualified for the competition after reaching the semifinals of the Zone VI Club championships.
"We are happy to see both our teams qualifying for Africa club championships. For now all our players have been released for festive but we have advised them to be on active rest throughout. We will resume team training on the 15th of January 2019,"said Kutlwano setter Tjiyapo Madeluka.
When asked about measures in place to raise funds for the trip since it is expensive Madeluka said they are yet to make such plans. "Playing this tournament is expensive; starting with the preparations for Zone 6 and participation at the tournament. It gobbles a lot of funds. I believe by mid-January we will know the hosts. We are to meet soon as the executive and technical team to discuss and map a way forward regarding raising funds for the tournament," said Madeluka who also doubles as the club’s public relations officer.
Mag-Stimela are also in the fray as they finished on position three in Zone VI Club championship even though they were making their first time appearance at the tournament .So just like at Zone VI the Mahalapye side is set to make their debut at the Africa Club championship next year.
"We went to Zone Vi where we managed to perform very well. For now we are releasing our players such that they go and rest but we will resume full time training towards the end of January where we are going to meet as technical team and come up with robust plan in preparation for the tournament. In terms of sourcing funds for now there is nothing in place but prior to Zone VI we engaged some companies for possible sponsorship so as soon as the year starts we will talk to them again and see the way forward in getting support for the trip. We also intend to sell our merchandise to generate some money," said Coach Ruth Mbangwa of Mag-Stimela.
However it will be a great test for the local teams due to the fact that since the inception of the tournament no local team has achieved any great success at the competition. All the clubs in the likes of Police VI, Kutlwano, Mafolofolo and BDF VI had the chance to compete at the tournament in the past years but failed to progress beyond the group stages.
Botswana Volleyball Federation President Daniel Molaodi has since confirmed that all the four teams which made it to the semi-finals during the Zone VI will represent Botswana at the continental competition. "Yes, it is true; that was communicated to all participating teams prior to the competition in Durban so they have qualified," he said.