Aspersions cast over volleyball awards

Isaac Pheko
Thursday, 21 January 2016
SNUBBED… Police VI and Kutlwano have provided volleyball lovers with great entertainment in 2015 but the cops’ players are missing in the nominees’ list for awards. SNUBBED… Police VI and Kutlwano have provided volleyball lovers with great entertainment in 2015 but the cops’ players are missing in the nominees’ list for awards.

This week’s announcement of the Mascom Volleyball League Awards’ nominees by Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) has opened a can of worms. Already, questions abound in relation to the credibility of the systems that were used to determine the 2015 outstanding performers in the volleyball league.

The awards ceremony is set for Thursday evening next week at the Gaborone International Convention Centre (GICC). Soon after the nominees list was released this week, a public debate ensued as some volleyball administrators, coaches, players and even some radio and print sports journalists questioned the nominees in the various categories.

Of much concern was the conspicuous omission of Police VI Volleyball Club players in the nominees’ list although many observers feel they deserved some mention. Even the club’s leadership is shocked that the brilliant performance of their players could not be recognised for the mainstream awards on serving, attacking, passing, blocking and setting despite their team only missing out on the league title by a whisker. 

Sparring on social media this week, those close to the sport cast aspersions on the collection of statistics at league matches by team coaches, some of whom were accused of inflating performance points for theirfavourite players with the deliberate intention of making them win awards even when not deserving.

A concern was also raised that some teams played many matches without the collection of the statistics, which casts doubt on the credibility of the adjudication. Some club coaches who declined to go on record for fear of victimisation acknowledged that some of their matches during the year were played without collection of statistics and thus wonder how accurate the awards nominees’ list is. An aggrieved Police VI’s coach Shima Ngwanaotsile minced no words however, in criticising the criteria used that he believes worked against his players.

Ngwanaotsile made it clear that they were not happy with the awards snub despite their outstanding performance that saw them finish second in the league, while teams that finished below them have numerous nominees. “I can confirm that during a number of our games, there was no one there to collect statistics. It was worse in the second round after we had to play catch up having had some games in Swaziland. This forced us to play up to three games in one weekend, and at one point statistics was not collected in all those  games,” he told BG Sport.

The Police VI coach said he was thus not surprised that his players could not raise the necessary numbers to compete for individual awards.  Only one player, Uponi Gabobewe, was nominated for the award of Libero. “I cannot say we are happy with one nomination, but what can we say? BVF’s commission should give the answers as they are the ones responsible for compilation of statistics,” said Ngwanaotsile, whose team had a stellar season in which the hardworking and compact cops dominated the league which they lost to bitter rivals and 2015 men’s champions Kutlwano at the last minute.

BVF officials, however, have since come out in defence of the criteria used   to collect statistics during the games and the criteria used to identify nominees. “Statistics was consistently collected by team coaches for all players during the league. And these statistics are not about how a team plays, but about individual performance. We have a team, for instance, which finished the league in position four but has several nominees because the players were individually outstanding.

Such a team would have one dominant scorer while at a team like Police VI, scoring is shared among all players,” BVF’s Sports Development Officer Peaceful Seleka told BG Sport amidst the ongoing debate. 
He added that the statistics are there to show which players had the best individual performances, adding that an outstanding player in a weaker team could emerge as a stronger candidate than those who distribute their spikes in a better side. “The   statistics are collected by coaches under the supervision of the Coaches Commission. Of course the compilation is done manually compared to   international standards where a computerised system is used. We thus cannot dismiss the possibility of mistakes because the system is not 100 percent efficient. But we are under resourced and have to make do with what we have,” he said. 

BVF’s Vice President Technical George Keotsene added that their capacity to collect statistics during the games was adequate, although he conceded there areas that can be improved. He reiterated Seleka’s sentiments that the BVF does not have the resources to use computerised collection systems, hence the possibility of inaccurate collection through human error. “You must also understand that our players are not professional and they do not play throughout the season. Sometimes they can be away due to other commitments.”

Some coaches however say despite the shortcomings of the systems used, they find some nominations and omissions shocking. “But as long as there are games where statistics is not collected, which happened a lot, we should not be surprised that the nominations are questionable. The BVF office knows that there are several games for which they cannot produce statistics sheets because no one was assigned such games. They need to come up with a new formula,” one coach commented.

Meanwhile some of the nominees for the Mascom Volleyball League awards include: Best Attacker Men (Bokao Nagafela, Phemelo Lekoko, Kabo Moetse); Best Server (Phemelo Lekoko, Moemedi Siphambe, Titoyaone Otimile); Best Blocker (Cedric Daniel, Moemedi Siphambe, Pastor Rebabonye); Best Libero (Meshack Mutambirwa, Uponi Gabobewe, Molebi Rabosigo); Best Setter (Tjiyapo Madeluka, Phenyo Thebeng, Kesaobaka Lenkopanye); Top Scorer (Kabo Moetse, Shadrack Kapeko, Phemelo Lekoko).

Female nominees: Attacker (Gabaresepe Mashole, Tebogo Sejewe, Gaoleseletse Gasekgongwe); Server (Collin Moithei, Tebogo Sejewe, Karabo Molefha), Blocker (Tsholofelo Retshabile, Caroline Rodger, Monica Alfred); Setter (Tshepo Kumako, Sesha Motswiri, Kelebogile Mahupela), Scorer (Gaoleseletse Gasekgongwe, Tebogo Sejewe, Gabaresepe Mashaole).

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