The women’s Under 23 Volleyball national team will be seeking a place in the Volleyball World Championship if they perform well at the upcoming African Championship slated for Nairobi, Kenya.
The top two teams from the tournament will qualify for the World Championships slated for 2017 whose host country is yet to be revealed. The abundantly talented and albeit less experienced Botswana team is expected to tussle volleyball powerhouses including hosts, Kenya and Egypt.
Speaking at the national team send-off ceremony this week, Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) President Daniel Molaodi said the team is the crème dela crème of the country, adding that they are expected to take over as the senior national team soon. Molaodi said serious attention should be diverted to the team.
“The transitional group to the senior national teams are usually the Under 23 teams, this age group should be paid attention to, not only by training but exposing them to competitions like the one they will be taking part in. This is the beginning for them but we are sending them with hope but this is based on reality, it will be a tall order to say go and win but our desire is for them to compete,” he said.
Since the withdrawal of Tunisia, there are only five teams participating in the tournament being Kenya, Botswana, Egypt, Senegal and Rwanda. According to Molaodi, no team deserves to be undermined. “I know many do not know a lot about Rwanda and believe we will just win but it is not going to be that easy, all the teams will present formidable challenges,” he opined.
Giving a word of inspiration to the team Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC), Director, Sports Development –Technical, Bobby Gaseitsiwe said sports is an opportunity and a lot can be derived from it. He cautioned the team to play as a collective. “Your hard work has made you earn your stripes so go there to put an effort and that should not be less than 100 percent. You need each other as a team and you should play each set at a time, do not plan for the third set while playing the first set, and be systematised” he said.
Meanwhile, team coach Isaac Thengelani expects victory during the tourney. “We did not have enough time to prepare for the tournament and another issue of concern is facilities, we train outdoors and during the games we play inside the indoor facilities but we have to compromise and adapt to certain situations,” he said on the sidelines of the send-off ceremony.
Kenya and Egypt are the main concern for the local coach. “It is going to be a little bit of work for us, most players from Kenya have been exposed to an international competition their team comprises of players who have been here during the 2014 Gaborone Youth Games, some were even part of the team that went all the way to win the All Africa Games in 2015. Egypt has four famous players in their team who have been promoted to the national team. We also have three players from the national team, who have not played international games.”
Furthermore, the coach declared the team fit and free from injuries. “We have a fully fit squad and ready to compete nonetheless the period we had for preparations was not enough so if we could win a single game to stay we will have to win or occupy the second position will be a strenuous job for us. We are not equal in strength to our opponents, we can win against maybe Senegal.