Botswana Softball Association (BSA) has assembled a strong team mostly made up of junior players in an effort to ensure that the country will enter the World Baseball Softball Confederation’s (WBSC) Men’s Softball World Cup for the ninth time, The Business Weekly Sports has established.
For Botswana to make it to the championships, the country must finish first at the Africa qualifiers which are scheduled for Pretoria, South Africa from 11 to 13 February next year because Africa has been allocated only one slot at the Softball World Cup.
Should the country qualify in South Africa next year, it will be the ninth time that the country participates at the competition, having participated in eight softball world championships so far.
Said BSA mouthpiece, Boingotlo Marope, in an interview: “The national select will begin with their preparations this weekend. For now, we just want the team to train together over weekends.
“We used a high breed model for the national team selection, which resulted in 60 percent of the team being junior players and the rest senior players. With this model, we are basically building for the future.”
But the BSA is worried that there is little time for the team to prepare for the Africa Qualifiers. “We are left with approximately 14 weeks until the competition takes place,” Marope said. “There is little time. But we are going to do our best to ensure that the team is ready by February because we want them to qualify for the World Cup. We have to qualify.”
Have the players not rusted after being inactive when sports was suspended? “Although we cannot really rely on it, some have told us that they have been training on their own,” came Marope’s response. “Training by oneself is not as safe as training as a team. They need that coherence and rhythm to compete at a qualification tournament. We will do our best to ensure that they are ready, come February.”
Even so, financial constraints are an issue that could affect the team’s preparations for the Africa Qualifiers. “We are on a very difficult financial terrain,” Marope said. “Like other sporting codes, we have a very limited budget. We will have to cut some expenses. For example, not accommodating and transporting players based in Gaborone to training camps. We are talking with such players and it is our hope that they will understand.”
Botswana has done well in previous Africa Qualifiers, having qualified for the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup in 2017 and 2019. At the 2017 softball world championships, the country advanced to the playoffs for the first time and claimed their highest finish ever at 8th place. Botswana finished in 14th place at the 2019 WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup that was held in the Czech Republic.
Meanwhile, the WBSC Men’s Softball World Cup has been shifted from February next year to November to give more certainty to competing countries. The premier international men’s softball event will now take place from 26 November to 4 December in Auckland, New Zealand. Originally set to take place in February 2021, the tournament was postponed to 2022 because of the safety precautions and international travel restrictions imposed everywhere soon after the outbreak of the damnable COVID-19 pandemic.