Just days after hosting a successful women in sport conference, Botswana gets an immediate opportunity to host 10 countries for the Africa Women's Sevens tournament, which runs from Saturday to Sunday at the National Stadium.
Botswana, Kenya, South Africa, Mauritius, Madagascar, Senegal, Tunisia, Morocco, Uganda and Zimbabwe will battle it out for the title. The teams have been divided into three pools with Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal in Pool 1, while the second pool has Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe. Botswana, Mauritius, Morocco and Zambia are in Pool 3.
The tournament would be used to prepare the teams for the Olympic Games qualifiers later this year.
Botswana Women’s Sevens team coach, Emmanuel Masinke told Mmegi Sport that they started preparing for the tournament eight weeks ago. “We had some trials and trimmed the squad to 24. That is what we have been working on. Last year we competed with the same crop of players in the 15’s against Zimbabwe and The Leopards in South Africa.
“We got a thorough beating. Physically we were not convincing and our strength is to run with the ball,” he said.
Masinke said they started a gym program last November and the results are encouraging. He said now it shows when the players tackle or rug. He said the team was tested against Zimbabwe again where they gave the neighbours a run for their money. He said it has been difficult to access training facilities.
“Botswana is back in the Sevens because we are hosting it.
Masinke said to them it is not about winning the title but survival. He said the majority of the players in the squad are new.
“What worries me a bit is that young players either get too excited or too scared. I hope we can strike a balance,” Masinke said.
Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) president, Lesedi Keekae said being the host is an opportunity to get back into the circuit and play a tournament where they can be ranked.“The more you get ranked, the more tournaments you play. As you go up, the money comes in. Currently Kenya is ripping all the benefits due to the hard work they put in and climbed up the ranks,” Keekae said.
The Botswana team: Amogelang Rebatenne, Goitseone Phophole, Kefalotse Kehulakae, Habiba Dithupa, Lebogang Kelepile, Nthabiseng Moloiswa, Thato Tutwane, Onkarabile Monyamane, Kelebogile Bagwasi, Prudence Ramokapane, Monica Motlhanka and Katlego Disang. Technical bench: Koketso Ntsebe (assistant coach) and Tjeludo Monyai (team manager).
Kenya, Madagascar and Senegal
Tunisia, Uganda and Zimbabwe
Morocco, Botswana, Mauritius and Zambia