Despite being inactive for over 18 months, the senior national netball team will compete at the Africa Netball Cup scheduled for Windhoek, Namibia from 9 to 16 November.
The tournament is expected to see the hosts welcome Botswana, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Kenya, Uganda and Malawi for a week of competition that will decide the African champions. Botswana netball has been inactive for over 18 months due to absence of the league sponsors and suspension of sports to curb the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, (BONA) president Malebo Raditladi-Nkgakile, says Botswana must participate in the tournament in order to ensure that the players do not lose interest in the game.
“If we do not engage the players now, it may not be easy in the future because others are aging and losing interest in the game as there hasn’t been any sports for a very long time,” Raditladi-Nkgakile said in an interview. “The time is now or never.”
Besides, she added, the other participants were similarly affected by suspension of sports due to COVID-19. “This is a perfect time for us to gauge our performance because the World Championships qualifiers are nearing,” Raditladi-Nkgakile pointed out. “If we miss this tournament, we will never get a chance to see how this long halt affected us.”
Regarding criteria used to select the team, she said players were identified through zones. “They had selections within their zones,” the BONA leader said. “The zonal teams then played in a tournament that was used to select the national team which has been in camp for the past two weeks.”
Asked when the local netball league will return, Raditladi-Nkgakile answered: “We are still planning our return but I must note that that will depend on when we will secure sponsors for the league. We are still in discussions with different companies and it is our hope that some will come on board very soon. We need to return to play and it is our wish to see the netball players playing the sport that they like very soon. This is a career for some players.”