The Mascom Volleyball League season has started at a frenetic pace, with no clear favourites at the early stages.
As the league enters week eight, a point separates log leaders, BDF VI (21) and Kalavango in the men’s category.
MagStimela are not too far behind with 19 points.
In the women’s league, MagStimela lead the pack with 21 points with Mafolofolo three points off the pace with two games at hand. Police VI sit third with 14 points.
Former national team coach, Isaac Thenjelani said it has been an exhilarating start to the season.
“It is exciting to see that women have grown in their game. There are teams that we did not expect to be on top at the moment. Traditional favourites are not dominating as before,” he said.
Thenjelani said Police VI is a revamped side despite the presence of experienced players.
He said they have played together for some time, which makes it easier for them to gel.
The side has six former BDF players.
Mafolofolo lost key players; Tsholofelo Retshabile, Gabaresepe Mashaole and Gaoleseletse Gasekgonwe to MagStimela. The three have been a dominant force in the women’s game, winning several individual awards.
“For them to leave for MagStimela meant something. Those are some of the things that influence the league. On the other hand, Kalavango uses the oldest setter in the league, Unami Tupane (40). There is also Monica Alfred. They have young players who they are grooming,” he said.
He said Mafolofolo has their usual setter who has good support from the young players. Thenjelani said Mafolofolo coach, Kabo Ntshinogang knows how to build a team. Thenjelani said Kutlwano are struggling at the moment because they do not have a setter and versatile players. He said it is a spell that Kutlwano would
Thenjelani said a lot of movement is expected during the coming transfer window. He said it is not about winning but building competitive teams.
“Kalavango did not start the season on the right foot. They are using experienced players and age is not on their side. We no longer have a team that could be said to be a walk over. The way things are going, the champions would be decided right at the end,” he said.
Thenjelani noted that teams that usually get the top three positions are not expected to keep the same pattern at the end of the season. He said new faces are expected on the podium this time around.
Thenjelani said it was difficult to assess performance based on the coaches as teams utilise what they have. He said the movement of players contributes to the team not the coaches.
“If it was coaches, they would be performing and producing best players. Police wanted a women’s team but they recruited BDF players. They moved with their coach, Lee Tshipana,” Thenjelani said. He said Ntshinogang is good at developing players, with most of the squad, relatively unknown. He said Kutlwano is one of the clubs that always develop players, who include Tshiamo Chakalisa, Caroline Rodger and Merapelo Tshimologo.
“We started seeing those players at Kutlwano. Who are the other players that we saw at other clubs? Do coaches have development structures? Development means coming with a player from the start. Coaches tend to fail and depend on other people to develop players for them and most of the coaches do not know how to develop talent,” Thenjelani noted.