The senior netball team will return to the international scene after a two-year break with two major tournaments lined up for October and November.
The Botswana Netball Association (BONA) has been invited to participate in the Pent Series to be held in Windhoek, Namibia from October 31 to November 5, 2021. Botswana is expected to line up against Zambia, Zimbabwe, Malawi, Kenya, Uganda and the hosts Namibia. The tournament that is organised by the Namibia Netball Association will be a curtain-raiser for the African Netball Cup that is to be held in Windhoek from November 9-16, 2021.
Speaking to Mmegi Sport, BONA public relations officer Mokereste Mokereste said the two tournaments are a starting point to the senior team’s preparations for the 2023 World Cup to be held in Cape Town, South Africa. With the World Cup qualifiers and Commonwealth Games to be held next year, Mokereste said the two ranking tournaments, will help in the team’s preparations for the prestigious world events.
“In 2022, we will be playing in the World Cup qualifiers to be held in South Africa. BONA had already decided to start the preparations for our senior team for these qualifiers even before we received invitations for these (two) tournaments. We need to prepare early so we can gauge our progress. Also, these games are test matches and their results are used in the world rankings. We are currently ranked 27th in the world, so we need to improve in order to qualify for the 2022 Commonwealth Games. The top 12 teams in the world qualify for the Commonwealth Games hence we need to improve our ranking since we are currently outside the top 12 countries,” he said.
The last time the senior team tasted action was in 2019 at the Nations Cup held in Singapore. Botswana finished fourth at the tournament. Mokereste believes despite two years of inactivity, they will be able to assemble a team that will be ready to compete in just over a month’s time. “We may have two years being inactive but we have the players. It is the technical team’s job to call up the players for the camp. We also have the junior teams that have been active in 2017, 2018 and 2019 and we believe that they will graduate to the senior team. We had Dinaletsana in 2017 and most of them are now part of the senior team,” he said.
BONA has since written to the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) requesting funds for the two continental tournaments. It has been an anxious wait for the association, as they need to confirm their participation in the Africa Netball Cup by today, and if they miss the tournament BONA will face sanctions from the continental body, Africa Netball.