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Dinaledi underprepared

BONA lukewarm ahead of Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers

With almost four months to go before the Africa Netball World Cup qualifiers in South Africa, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) is yet to come up with a robust programme which will help the team qualify for the World Cup slated for Cape Town in 2023.

The continental qualifiers are scheduled to take place from the 20th – 27th of August where the winners and runners-up will get World Cup spots.

In addition, six nations in the World Netball rankings get automatic qualification to the World Cup, and Uganda are the only team in the region that stands the chance to benefit from the dispensation as they are ranked 6th.

It is imperative for Botswana to capitalise on the proximity of Cape Town and engage in robust plans to make sure the team does qualify.

However, since Cape Town was announced as the host of the netball show piece in 2019 there was never any serious intentions from BONA to show cause that they fancy the chances of qualifying for the tournament.

Despite qualifiers being a few months away, Botswana does not have a solid team that can mount a serious challenge and secure qualification to the 20-team tournament.

Since the tournament is closer to home, Botswana could have long assembled a strong team way back and had a proper programme to aid the team to qualify. Therefore the challenges of not having an outstanding team and robust preparations will be the main challenge towards qualifying, which remains a far-fetched dream for now.

As of now, Dinaledi, as the senior ladies’ national team is fondly known, are yet to engage in any robust preparations ahead of the qualifiers.

“We will be assembling the team for a training camp on the 14th – 18th April and already athletes went through a fitness test two weeks back. This time around we highly fancy our chances as we believe we have the competitive edge to prevail. We are starting our preparations early. This will give us ample time to identify loopholes and address them,” said BONA mouthpiece, Mokeresete Mokeresete.

According to Mokeresete, the Lucara Netball League will be instrumental in preparing players to be match-fit since it’s scheduled to commence in May.

“For now, we are going to rely on training camps and the league as our main preparations for the qualifiers but it’s in our plans to look for possible international friendly games. We just completed our mini league and it gave the technical team an opportunity to assess players after a long layoff. Funds are a challenge in the quest to get this team fully prepared for the qualifiers. Our preparations require more than P1 million to cater for athletes’ camping allowances, transport fees, accommodation, food and medicals,” he said.

Does Botswana Stand a chance to qualify?

Local netball standards have been dwindling over the years due to the absence of the national league.

The prolonged inactivity led to poor results at international competitions.

Therefore at this point in time Botswana’s chances of qualifying for the World Cup are very slim as evidenced by the rankings.

South Africa have already qualified as the hosts therefore countries such as Uganda(6), Malawi(7), Zimbabwe(15), Zambia(17) and Namibia(22) are way ahead of Botswana in terms of netball.

Even during the Africa Cup last year, Botswana finished a distant 8th behind all of these countries.

With Dinaledi ranked 27th, only Kenya, Tanzania and Lesotho are ranked lower on 37th and 38th respectively.

Botswana has played in only two World Cup tournaments in 2007 and 2011.