The seventh Notwane Under-20 HIV/AIDS netball tournament was held over the weekend in Gaborone. The theme of this year’s edition was: “Engaging the youth voices in the HIV/AIDS responses”.
The chairperson of the netball section of Notwane Club, Malebogo Maphalane, said the tournament was started in 2008 to contribute in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
This year’s tournament was won by Notwane who beat BDF Cats in the final. Other teams which took part were Jungle Queens, Lavida Academy, Merementshi Junior Secondary School (Mmadinare), Kids Stars, Jwaneng and Flying Hawks. Merementshi has been participating in the tournament since its inception.
Maphalane said that in the past three years, the tournament was sponsored by the Ministry of Youth, Sport and Culture. A catering company, Dintle Hire Corporation sponsored the prize giving ceremony, which was hosted at the Notwane Club House.
Maphalane said former netball players made several donations while others volunteered during the tournament. Botswana Netball Association (BONA) provided technical support while sports wear company, Dlala dressed members of the organising committee.
Maphalane said they started the tournament because they realised that netball teams do not have youth structures. Hence, the tournament is meant to encourage teams to build development structures even for BONA. She stated that during the tournament, people undergo HIV testing and counselling.
Maphalane said in the past, they invited popular artists to perform at the tournament. But this time, they wanted to give participating teams time to discuss HIV/AIDS issues. She said they only give medals and not cash prizes to winners. The last day of the tournament was marked by a march from Gaborone Secondary School grounds to the BONA courts where the games were staged.
Speaking at the prize giving ceremony, former netball player, Prisca Mokgadi said the tournament started with small but has grown huge. She said they have seen young players who have been participating in the tournament, graduating to senior teams. She added that some of the players have become celebrities. Mokgadi said she is looking forward to a similar tournament that will feature retired players.
Another former netballer who gave a motivational talk was Tebogo Kesupile who said the tournament is not about Notwane Club. She said it is about the girl child and sport.
She told the young players that netball can groom them to become responsible citizens. Kesupile said she would like to see Botswana having a netball hall of fame.
The communications manager of Notwane football team, Podi Mooki said they give priority to development and they are proud of their efforts. Mooki said he was impressed with the quality of netball displayed during the tournament.