The local netball league has not been played in three years and recently the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) sent the national team to the Africa Netball Cup in Namibia. It was a less desirable showing by Dinaledi and Mmegi Sport Correspondent, KABELO BORANABI wonders if the decision to opt for international over local competitions has backfired
Dinaledi lost their first six games only to salvage victories in their last two against Tanzania and Zimbabwe. The team finished the nine-team tournament second from the bottom just ahead of Tanzania, who were the only team to leave the competition without a win. Dinaledi, once a promising side on the continent, is ranked 27th in the world.
The team’s highest ranking was 16th in 2016 and five years later the team has fallen a long way behind. There was a glimmer of hope after the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup held in Gaborone. The performance of the Under-21 team in the tournament brought some level of hope at a time when the players were active in the BONA national league sponsored by the retail chain store, Spar.
However, since 2018, the players have been inactive at the elite league level.
The league has not had a financial backer for three years now. And just recently, national team head coach Sithulile Mlotshwa was tasked with assembling a team for the biggest netball tournament in Africa.
The coach, in an interview with this publication, admitted the players were rusty after a long layoff of inactivity.
The team’s sorry performance raised questions of why the national league has been overlooked yet the team takes part in international competitions. With the 2023 World Cup qualifiers set to be played next year, it was a good exercise for the team. However, focussing on the national league would have brought better results and aided the team’s preparations for the world spectacle. Dinaledi’s showing highlights a rush to send national teams by sporting associations to international competitions over local ones.
In October, the senior badminton team returned home empty-handed from the All Africa Badminton Championships held in Uganda.
The sport had been relatively inactive for three years. A national selection tournament was used to pick the team whilst a single competition was played over a year before the Kampala tournament. It proved that the tournament was not enough to prepare the team for the championship.
However, the Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) took a different route as it sent junior players for the African Senior Championships held in Yaoundé, Cameroon.
It was yet another barren showing by the national team but positives were drawn as the BTTA had put an eye on the future.
The sport has been one with active local competitions during the COVID-19-influenced restrictions on sport.