The senior netball national team will not compete at this years’ Africa Netball Championships slated for Cape Town, South Africa from the 18-22 of October. The tournament which is highly recognized by the International Netball Federation(INF) is a ranking event and has attracted nine countries being, Eswatini, Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi ,South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe. According to available information, the Africa Championships were to be held long before the Netball World Cup early this year but was postponed to a later date which ended up clashing with Singapore’s Six Nations tournament which Botswana long agreed to compete in during December 2018.
Instead Botswana has chosen to snub the continental tournament for a six nations tournament in Singapore dubbed M1 Nations Cup. The competition which is also a ranking tournament will run from the 20th -26th of October at the OCBC Arena and has Namibia, Singapore, Cook Islands, Ireland, Papua New Guinea as participating countries. For now the technical team is conducting final selections from the 27th -30th of September for the squad before playing a friendly game with a Zimbabwean club on 10-11 October before heading to Asia
“We are sending our team to Singapore but this championships happens concurrently with Africa Cup and as the executive committee we had to prioritize the Singapore trip to maintain international relations. Be informed that Botswana Netball Association (BONA) long made a commitment to Singapore before Africa Netball announced its dates for their championships. The games we are attending there will afford us to play against the best teams and they are ranking games as well,” explained BONA Vice President -Technical, Oteng Masole.
The event which is Botswana’s first competitive tournament this year comes at the right time in which the senior national team rakings are going down gradually there provide a perfect opportunity for the team to earn some points. Currently Botswana is ranked 26th out of 43 stream teams enlisted for the INF rankings. Though there is excitement of the team retuning to action there hasn’t been an league action or tournaments which could have helped the technical team when it comes to picking players for the team therefore Dinaledi has a massive task ahead at the competition against sides like Cook Islands, Ireland which have been active all along while Singapore has just returned from the World Cup.
“ Previously the association’s aim was to take two teams for both competitions hence we called all players starting with our Under 21 such that we select and come up with two teams which meant we were going to have more ratings as we could have played in both tournaments but it didn’t go according to plan. But in Singapore all the nations we are to play are better ranked than us so we stand a chance to improve our rakings depending on our performance there. We started training three weeks back but since we are not yet on camp it is just once a day. So I will say the ongoing preparations have shown improvement on two aspects being fitness and agility. In the coming week we will be working on game plan and management,” said head coach Sithulile Mlotshwa.
M1 Nations Cup 2019 Competition Schedule
20th October-Botswana vs Cook Islands
21st October-Botswana vs Singapore
22nd October-Papua New Guinea vs Botswana
23rd October –Botswana vs Ireland
25th October-Namibia vs Botswana