The Vultures national rugby team can be considered a lucky lot after passing through the airport in Istanbul, Turkey last weekend.
Barely five days after the local rugby team passed through the airport enroute to an Africa 1B tournament in Tunisia, terrorists attacked the facility, killing 41 people and injuring 239. The 25 strong team, which connected a flight in Istanbul enroute to Monastir, Tunisia were expected to play their last game against Ivory Coast late Wednesday before returning home today (Friday) or early Saturday.
According to international news agencies, three terrorists with suspected links to ISIS attacked the arrivals hall and a nearby parking lot with gunfire and explosives on Wednesday. Speaking in an interview this week, Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) secretary general Ernest Mantsi said the team was safe and played their final game on Wednesday night. “The tournament coordinator will ensure that the team comes back home safely. There is no need to worry, the team members are safe their friends and families should not panic,” Mantsi said.
Mantsi confirmed that the team passed through the Istanbul airport on 23rd June, four days before the bloodbath at the city airport occurred. However, Mantsi said they have not yet had any communication from the tournament coordinator on whether the Vultures will have to reroute when they return home. Meanwhile, Mantsi said the Vultures’ mandate in Tunisia was to retain their 1B status and avoid relegating to the lower 1C category.The Vultures managed to climb to 1B last year at a tournament in Uganda. They have since been beaten 43-10 by a stronger Tunisia who relegated from 1A. Mantsi encouraged Batswana to support the Vultures. He said that some Batswana do not even realise that the country has a national rugby team.