… Leaves for All Africa Games
Team Botswana is optimistic of obtaining positive results at the two-week 12th edition of the All Africa games set for Rabat, Morocco from August 19 -31, 2019. Botswana has sent a strong team of close to 103 athletes who will compete in 11 sporting codes being tennis, athletics, karate, volleyball, cycling, boxing, taekwondo, chess, weightlifting, swimming and Judo.
Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) and Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) have been busy preparing for the games after government released close to P18 million for preparations.
Though athletics has a very good record of bringing positive results at the games, a lot of changes are expected this year as most of the athletes are looking forward to prove their mettle amongst the best on the continent.
Karate is one of the codes which will be looking forward to dethrone athletics as evidenced by their recent performances on the international stage. The karate team is still oozing with confidence after competing in the Africa Senior Cup, which was held in Gaborone last month. The team boosts of 21 karatekas, which means the prospects of bringing as many medals as possible is an achievable task. According to one of the team members, Ofentse Bakwadi, they are ready for the challenge.
“We have been training locally and though we did not get any international training or match we are ready to bring some good results because you can see that the team hasn’t changed that much. My plan is to reach the finals and fight for that gold,” said Bakwadi, who won bronze medal in the previous edition in Congo Brazzaville.
Botswana has sent only the ladies volleyball team which has been bedeviled by a string of poor results this year. The volleyball draw was conducted last week by Confederation of Africa Volleyball and Botswana managed to get a lucky draw after being drawn in Pool A alongside Morocco, Mauritius and Nigeria. However, the team has been dealt a heavy blow as the initial head coach Kabo Ntshinogang could not travel with the team due to work commitments. Isaac Samuel has since been roped in to lead the team to the tournament assisted by Makgetla Gareanna and Tshepo Molosiwa.
This will be the third time that the team competes in the games having graced both tournaments which were in Maputo and Brazzaville in 2011 and 2015. The team still has players who played in those previous games in Gaoleseletse Gasekgonwe, Karabo Molefha and Chada Majaha whose experience is very valuable in the squad. Despite the recent poor performance by the team, senior player Tracy Chaba-Disang says they have what it takes to turn the tables around and perform better this time around.
“It has been hectic because we have been training hard more so that we only had two weeks to prepare intensively and had a lot to cover. And I will say so far so good since we don’t have injuries so far and this time round we want to bring a medal home. We have players who have been to the games before and we have an new coach who has made his own changes but I would not say that will affect us because he has coached as before and we are all familiar with him. So for him to be roped in at the eleventh hour won’t affect us that much, we have what it takes to do well despite what happened in the past,” said Chaba-Disang.
After missing out on the 2015 edition chess returns to the games with a strong team of IM Providence Oatlhotse, FM Phemelo Khetho, WIM Onkemetse Francis and 14-year-old WCM Refilwe Gabatshwarwe.
“Talking about targets I’m looking forward to at least secure five points from the nine rounds we will play such that we get closer to the podium positions. I have been preparing very well with my coach such that I get to understand my game plan. I might be the youngest player in the team but I’m not really intimidated because I have prepared quite well and I will compete to my level best,” said WCM Gabatswarwe.
In the last edition Botswana scooped 15 medals being three gold, three silver and nine bronze.