Netball Under-18 team will assemble this weekend to kick start preparations for the Africa Union Sport Council (AUSC) Region 5 Games scheduled for December in Lesotho.
Coach Neo Dema has named a provisional 32-player squad for the preliminary preparations for the tournament to be held from December 3-12, 2021 in Maseru.
As per the tournament rules, netball teams will use Under-18s for the Under-20 tournament. Speaking to Mmegi Sport, this week, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) public relations officer, Mokereste Mokereste they are targeting a return to the Netball World Youth Cup.
Botswana failed to qualify for the 2021 Netball World Youth Cup scheduled for December in Fiji but the tournament was cancelled due to COVID-19. The country’s last appearance at the prestigious tournament was in 2017 when Gaborone hosted the competition. He said BONA is eyeing a return to the [Gibraltar Netball] World Youth Cup in 2025 and the current Under-18 squad is being prepared for the qualifiers set for 2024.
Along the way, the team will also play at the 2022 Africa Youth Games in Ethiopia. “The organisers of the AUSC games decided that netball teams will use Under-18 sides, not the Under-20. To us, this came as a blessing because we have been fighting to implement our long-term player development. So this is an opportunity for us. BONA has [a] long-term plan until 2025 where we [are] preparing for the Netball World Youth Cup. So that gives us a four-year development plan to ensure that the team for the world [stage] is ready. So we are starting with this team now and should stretch until 2025.
This team will also be used in the AUSC games and the 2022 Africa Youth Games in Ethiopia. This is to make sure that we are fully ready for the qualifiers in 2024,” Mokereste said. The team will be in camp for three days between today and Sunday, and it is expected to regroup once again by the end of September. Mokereste said the technical team had to overcome some hurdles as their plans have been hampered by stoppages of both the national league and school leagues. "You would be aware that school sports provide players.
The last time we played netball in schools was in 2019. All the players here were selected in 2019. There was no other way we could select the team because there were no games last year and this year. We have a good relationship with BOPSSA (Botswana Primary Schools Sports Association) and BISA (Botswana Integrated Sports Association).
We liaised with the associations. We were able to select the team since they have the database of the players and thus selected the best 32 players. In 2019, we had the Botswana Games, which is a tournament we always use to select a team for the AUSC games. The oldest player in the team is 17 with the youngest being just 14.
This is for continuity as I said we are targeting the [Gibraltar Netball] World [Youth] Cup in 2025,” Mokereste said.
The provisional squad Gomolemo Serare, Vanessa Ncube, Ogone Daniel, Olorato Kgokong, Tiroyaone Mokela, Larona Mokhomma, Wangu Lomothokgo, Ruth Maupong, Lore Rapoo, Keneilwe Sheleng, Kamogelo Ngwaga, Masa Maphi, Angel Kgantshang, One Galebowe, Pearl Phillip, Phatshimo Maleele, Ogone Seabelo, Katlego Maggie, Warona Lekaunyana, One Mosweu, Gaone Samson, Kesego Samodimo, Valencia Mothibedi, Laura Selemo, Lesedi Ncayagae, Petronella Tlhapi, Gloria Adeooni, Botlhe Lekgare, Keitumetse Kobedi, Baone Moatswi, Tshegofatso Kenosi, Fridah Motswasele.