Botswana under 19 Cricket girls came second to ferocious Namibia in the 2016 eight (8) nations tournament held at the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) Oval in Gaborone over the weekend.
Botswana girls had a rather fascinating tournament and almost snatched the championship trophy, but the Namibian girls dashed their hopes during the finals. Namibia defeated Botswana 120 -116 in 17 overs. Botswana won all their games they competed in except Namibia. The teams conquered by Botswana include Lesotho, Swaziland and Gauteng province from South Africa.
In a previous encounter, Gauteng was pushed to the sidelines by Botswana in an intense semi-final battle that consequently saw the SA team landing on third position at the end of the tournament. “Disqualifying Gauteng from going through to the finals was an honour, we will forever cherish this victory. Gauteng are a well-established team with reputable sporting facilities as compared to us,” Laura Mophakedi, the team captain, said.
Botswana only managed third place last year and Mophakedi said they were thirsty for championship this time around. However, their mental and physical fitness seemed to get the better of them during the games. According to Mophakedi, Botswana began showing signs of fatigue in their final game and that was mainly due to the intense continuous play-offs.
Mophakedi said lack of thorough preparation was another contributing factor to their performance. “We only trained once a week because the team is mostly made up of students.” However, Team Botswana managed to get a consolation when Mophakedi won two players of the match titles against Swaziland and Lesotho while Jacqueline Kgama snatched one against South Africa.
Moreover, Namibia Captain Yasmeen Khan confirmed that Botswana gave them a challenge in the field, “We were dominating most of the time but both teams were hungry for the number one spot and we vowed not to return home with nothing less that a championship.”
Namibia came second to Zimbabwe in the 2015 tournament. However, the defending champions did not take part in this year’s tournament. Khan noted that they are not champions by chance and they were more than ready to dethrone Zimbabwe. Speaking at the tournament closing ceremony, Johan Clote, an international Cricket Umpire said he was very impressed by the development of Botswana Cricket especially their endeavours to empower girls in cricket. He said Botswana was the first African country to host an eight-nation tournament, adding that this was a great success that will surely not go unnoticed in cricket history.
Clote advised Cricket players to exercise patience, build partnerships, and prepare themselves for upcoming tournaments. “Cricket is not a game for those who are not willing to wait and it needs perfect practice.” He expressed gratitude to the Malawian girls for their vibrant on and off the field team spirit, which earned them a ‘good team spirit of the tournament’ trophy. Mozambique was chosen as the most improved team of the tournament.