The 12 player senior netball team competing at the ongoing 2018 Diamond Challenge held in Sheshego South Africa is without certain key players, Tebogo Radipotsane, Pearl Maribe, Hildah Binang and Kgomotso Matibini among others.
When the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) announced the squad travelling to South Africa this week, it was said that the team was still waiting the release of certain players who are employed by Botswana Defence Force (BDF) and Police.
However, it is not clear if the players were finally released to represent the country in South Africa.
BONA spokesperson Theresa Hitcherfield could not be drawn into discussing the matter further when asked; however, an insider at BONA has told BG Sport that the players were not released by their employers.“It is hard to get athletes because the process goes through the Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sports and Culture Development and the employers are said to be cross checking the productivity of the athlete before releasing them, it is a struggle,” said the source within BONA circles.
When reached, the Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Sports Development Director- Technical, Bobby Gaseitsiwe said it was within the rights of employers to either agree or refuse to release employees. He said that there was no agreement or any law compelling them to always release players for national team duty, however they do encourage employers to excuse them when such need arises.“We normally work well together, such cases of employers not releasing athletes do not occur often,” he said. Meanwhile, in the absence of key players, the team started on a wrong footing at the Diamond Challenge. Botswana suffered a 30- 43 defeat to Zimbabwe in their opening match this past Tuesday.
The Seipei Gaelesiwe led team had tied their Zimbabwean counterparts at close margin and only two goals separated them in the first and second quarter, the local girls however began losing the grip of the game in the last two quarters of the game.
This Friday, the team is playing Namibia and it remains to be seen if they can manage to stage a comeback into the challenge. It is up to the ladies to wash away a series of poor results that have been haunting the local netball side.