The year 2018 saw Botswana going one step up on hosting major events while the playing results were a mixed bag. PATRIOT SPORT REPORTER BAITSHEPI SEKGWENG reflects on a year whose highlights included the successful hosting of International Working Group on Women and Sport Conference (IWG) and the Africa Union Sports Council Region 5 Under 20 Youth Games.
They had a fairly good year as usual even though most fanatics believe they could have done better throughout the year. The started on a high note with local athletes dishing out a splendid performance at the Commonwealth games in Australia in April, securing five medals for Team Botswana at the games. Isaac Makwala and Baboloki Thebe won gold and silver medals in the men’s 400m while Amantle Montsho also made her return to international competition in style winning gold in the women’s 400m. 4x 400 relay teams went on to win gold and bronze at the games. It was one of Botswana’s best performances ever at the Commonwealth games. Still at the games local 400m ace Christine Botlogetswe showed the world her worth, finishing 4th on the ladies 400m final and has since gone on to register some personal best times in her various races which got her to be invited to races in Europe where she performed impressively well. Botswana Athletics Association (BAA) hosted the IAAF president Sebastian Coe on an official visit to Botswana to discuss the production of high class of 400m athletes – a move that showed the grown stature of the country in world athletics.
Botswana athletes won three medals at the Africa Senior Athletics Championship in Asaba, Nigeria with Nijel Amos and Thebe winning gold to defend their 800m and 400m titles respectively. Botlogetswe won silver medal in the ladies 400m just behind South Africa’s Caster Semenya. The trio went on to represent Africa at the IAAF Intercontinental competition where Thebe won double silver in 400m and 4x400m relay while Botlogetswe also won silver in the 4x400m relay team.
However on a low note local athletes were nowhere to be found at the IAAF Diamond League. After performing impressively well in 2017 expectations were that the dominance was going to continue. However 400m defending champion Makwala was on the sidelines due to an injury which ruled him out of the finals while Thebe finished fifth during the finals in Brussels. Amos was also absent in the 800m as he failed to accumulate enough points to qualify for the finals. On a sad note the 4 by 400m relay team lost one of its key members – Omphemetse Mokgadi –who collapsed when at training. May his soul rest in peace!
They are certainly the best performers this year as with many other years before. Karate has always brought home some medals in each and every international competition they take part in. The senior national team won five medals – two silvers and three bronze at the Africa Karate Senior Championships in Rwanda, Kigali with Sensei Ofentse Bakwadi and Gofaone Mosupiemang winning the only two silver medals in individual kata and kumite. At the Commonwealth Karate Championships in South Africa, Botswana won a total of 16 medals (3 gold, 6 silver, 7 bronze) where Botswana Karate Association president Tshepo Bathai was elected 3rd vice president of the Commonwealth Karate executive committee.
Botswana scooped 95 out of 199 medals at the Zone VI Karate Championships held in Gaborone in May this year. The result made 48 percent of the medals awarded during the competition, while the four other competing nations, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Namibia and Mozambique shared 58 percent of the medals. Out of 95 won by the local karatekas, 42 were gold, 28 silver and 25 bronze medals. The number of medals won ensured Botswana finished first in the tournament, followed by Zimbabwe with 56 medals. Namibia took position three with 32 medals in total.
Chess is one of the best performing sporting codes in the country. This year the senior national team competed at the World Chess Olympiad in Batumi, Georgia where they sent a 10 member team which did quite well. The team included debutants Boitumelo Radikoro, Ndachipiwa Kgomotso and 16-year-old WFM Besa Masaiti who performed well at the tournament despite the fact that they were making their first appearance at the Olympiad. The ladies and men’s teams went on to finish on position 93 and 98 respectively out of 150 countries. Still at the Olympiad Tshepiso Lopang was elected as the Vice president of Chess Africa.
Also the year saw Ndachipiwa Kgomotso emerging as one of the fast improving local players representing Botswana at the Africa Amateur Chess Championship where she won silver medal and earned a spot to represent the country at the global level where she finished on position 10 at the World Amateur Championships in Italy. Botswana Chess Federation has introduced a chess league which allows players to play in groups or teams. The league is funded by Debswana. Earlier in March the senior national team won silver and bronze medals at the Zone 4.3 Championships courtesy of WIM Onkementse Francis and FM Phemelo Khetho.
In addition, the junior team did wonders at the Africa Schools Individual Chess Championships garnering – eight gold, one silver and two bronze medals with players like WFMs Masaiti and Naledi Marape playing a starring role in the triumph of the team.
After struggling in 2017 Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) came back strong as they managed to secure a P1 million sponsorship for the national league from Mascom. Police VI and Mag-Stimela went on to win the championship tittles which earned them qualification at the Zone VI Club Championship. Local teams went on to dominate the Africa Zone VI championship with Police VI winning the championship title in the men’s section while Mag-Stimela ladies won bronze medal at the competition. Kutlwano ladies and men finished on position four. This means the four Botswana teams have qualified for the Africa Club Championships which are slated for next year in March and April. Though BVF managed to get sponsorship for the domestic league, teams were dealt a heavy blow after the federation failed to secure sponsorship and stage familiar cup competitions; JB Sports and Capital Motors Cups.
Once again the Zebras failed to qualify for the AFCON 2019 registering four loses and one draw with one game to spare in their campaign. However under the leadership of Major David Bright the team performed fairly well at the COSAFA senior challenge finishing in the quarter finals. Through the tournament, various players in the likes of Onkabetse Makgantai, Thatayaone Kgamanyane, Kabelo Seakanyeng and Lesenya Ramaoraka managed to secure contracts with teams at the ABSA Premiership after impressing during the competition. Also Township Rollers did history by becoming the first local side to reach the group stages of the CAF Champions League; however Popa was knocked-out of the competition with only four points from six games.
This year football has attracted huge sponsorship deals to assist the cash stripped Botswana Football Association. First National Bank Botswana and Choppies Enterprises have come on board to inject P3 million each into youth development structures for both boys and girls. In addition, Orange has returned to football and they will sponsor the long awaited FA Cup with an amount of P12.6 million for a period of three years. On the other hand Botswana Premier League has secured a P30 million endorsement from Hollard Insurance, Choppies and FNBB.
On a sad note, the football fraternity is mourning the death of Mochudi Centre Chiefs Vice chairman Clifford Mogomotsi. He served as chairman of Kgatleng Regional Football Association until his death in a fatal accident in Gaborone on Friday night. Rest in Peace Bro Cliff!
It was an average year for the code that sent four pugilists to the Zone 4 championships in Mozambique and managed to secure four medals courtesy of Mohammed Otukile, Tefo Maitewa, Aratwa Kasemang and Keamogetse Kenosi. The very same team went on to perform dismally at the Commonwealth Games failing to secure any medal despite the fact that they entered the competition at the quarterfinal stages. However the association successfully managed to host the national championships despite lack of sponsorship for the event. The championship attracted close to 80 boxers from 14 clubs across the country. On a sad note the association was surrounded by conflicts after the Thato Patlakwe- led association suspended and expelled vice president Dirang Thipe from the executive committee and boxing activities after he called off a trip of the senior national team to Poland without the knowledge of other executive committee members.
This was one of the worst years for Botswana netball. After successfully doing well in the past years local netball has regressed starting from junior structures to the senior national team. The year 2018 saw the return of the My Spar My Botswana Netball League which was sponsored by the chain store to the tune of P320,000.Nevertheless the league was one of the shortest competitions ever as it only lasted for only six weeks where Police Netball Club was crowned the champions. In terms of the national teams, the senior team has turned into the weeping girls of Africa. Dinaledi performed poorly at the Pent Series tourney in Namibia were they lost four games and finished on position four out of five teams. Botswana went on to fail to qualify for the World Cup after managing only 5th spot out of seven countries at the Africa World Cup qualifiers in Zambia. Local girls were hammered at the Diamond Challenge losing four of their games and winning one. To add salt to injury the national team fell one place down in the International Netball Federation rankings from 21 to 22.
For the third year in row local table tennis has failed to impress, more especially locally. Inactivity is something which has bedeviled the sport for a very long time. Out of 12 tournaments in Botswana Table Tennis Association calendar of events only four– Clash of the Titans, Nhabe, Jwaneng Open and Botswana-China Friendship – were hosted this year. Nevertheless Team Botswana managed to clinch five medals at the Zone VI Table Tennis Championships which was staged in Gaborone. The team won one gold, two silver and two bronze medals.