Botswana Basketball Association (BBA) president, Kabo Khama has highlighted the importance of participating in regional competitions saying it will help enhance the sport's growth in the country. Both men and women national teams are in camp preparing for the Africa Zone VI Afro Basket qualifying tournament to be played in Mozambique starting February 16. The teams have been preparing under the tutelage of Cuban coaches Roberto Richardson and Barbara de las Mercedes Becquer Rivero. However, their participation at the regional competition remains in doubt, as the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) is unable to fund them through the Zebra Fund.BNSC coffers are empty, which prompted the organisation to announced late last year that the Zebra Fund had run dry and it would not be able to fund any teams or athletes for international competitions. Speaking to Mmegi Sport yesterday, Khama said despite having less than a week before the start of the competition, they were still hopeful of travelling to Maputo, the Mozambican capital.
"The teams are still in camp. We are still in negotiations with all the relevant stakeholders including the BNSC," he said. He said they have worked hard in terms of preparations and cannot give up at this point. The teams last weekend funded themselves for a trip to South Africa where they played friendly matches against some teams in the North West Province. The BNSC only assisted them with transport to South Africa. Khama said the teams are in good shape as evidenced by their performances in South Africa and he is convinced they will perform well at the qualifiers. Both teams won the two matches they played in Potchefstroom and Khama pleaded with the corporate society to assist where possible so that the team can travel to Mozambique. He said Botswana basketball has not been participating in international competitions for a while and as a result the status of the sport in the country has declined. The national teams have assembled for camp this year for the very first time in over two years.
Khama said being part of the regional competitions would help recapture the good status that basketball was in some years back. "If we go out and compete, people will take note, we can be able to attract more sponsors and improve as time goes on," he said. He said last year they received a wild card for the national Under-16 to compete in the African Championship but were unable to do so at they were unprepared.He said Botswana stand a very good chance of qualifying for the Afro-Basket at other regional powerhouses Angola and Mozambique have already qualified.Mozambique qualified as the host while Angola are in by virtue of being the defending champions. Botswana will therefore have to compete with the likes of Zambia, South Africa, and Zimbabwe, for a spot at the championships. These teams possess almost the same strength as Botswana. The winners of the regional tournaments will progress to the 2013 Afro Basket to be held later in the year.