The Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) is battling obstacles in their pursuit for a continental title. BTTA has sent two players to the African Senior Championships held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
The team, however, left for Yaoundé on Monday without Kebodiwang who tested positive for COVID-19. The youngster has gone for a mandatory 10-day isolation period that ends on September 1, and the BTTA remains hopeful she will join the team on time. “After 10 days, she will test again and if negative she will travel to Cameroon to join the team. The tournament starts with the team competition so she will make it for the singles competition,” BTTA communications officer, Arthur Kgaswe told Mmegi Sport. Kebodiwang and Dekop secured their spots in the team after winning the BTTA Junior Open held earlier this month. The duo was part of an initial eight-member team, which was trimmed down to just two due to budgetary constraints. Kgaswe said he had one eye on the future which is why they sent junior athletes to the continental competition. With only two athletes at the spectacle, Botswana is targeting a podium finish to book a place at the World Championship. “We had an option to send the senior team but choose not to.
That is why we sent the junior team with the main target to help them grow mentally and get exposure, and also help them prepare for Commonwealth Games in 2022 and World Table Tennis Championships in 2023. Initially, we wanted to send a team of eight; four per gender but because of lack of funds we sent one (athlete) per gender. So we hope that there will be a competition that will allow us to play the qualifiers,” Kgaswe said.
He added that the team’s preparations have been impacted by the latest three-week ban on sports activities as the players travelled to Cameroon without the much-needed game time. “Honestly, it (ban) did not affect the national team that much because the Governement Gazette said the national team could continue playing even during the suspension of sports activities. The only problem we had was we were not able to help the team in terms of match fitness before their departure since it was impossible to host tournaments.” Dekop is meanwhile, in Cameroon to go for a week-long training before the start of the tournament on Tuesday.