Botswana netball player Cheledo Davids who was identified during the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC) games is going for trials in Australia. According to Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president, Malebo Raditladi, Davids was invited by Woods Panthers netball club coach, Judi Andrewartha, to join the premier league squad. The team is based in Adelaide in South Australia.
The Australia trials, she said, comes as a follow-up to an invitation that was sent after the Dinaletsana trip to Australia where they identified Fatima Dino, Kgomotso Matibini and Davids as top cream. At the time, the request was that the identified players would play and school in Australia but BONA failed to acquire scholarships for the players and the deal somehow fell off.
“Early this year, they sent a request now focussing on Cheledo alone. And it has been a mission to ensuring she arrives there but other than that, the team that has been behind this initiative headed by Our former president Tebogo Lebotse-sebego together with Dr. Keba Hulela and Lorato Thebekgosi has managed and Cheludo is scheduled to leave on the 8th June 2019,” Raditladi said.
She added that Davids will be in Australia for only 4 months as the other 2 months were wasted while trying to acquire funding for her travel to Australia. The BONA president assured that the offer letter that was shared with BONA states that the player will be in a very high performance training where her suitability and contentment will be assessed and when all parties are satisfied with her, then an extension of her contract and term will be considered. She mentioned that David’s welfare will be taken care of by the Australia team.
Raditladi expressed confidence that Davids is a talented player and believes she will do well out there. “I believe she will be able to adapt to the elite training which might be a bit of a challenge for her as she is not used to that high level training but we believe if she sees others doing it and managing, she will also push herself to be better,” she said.
She noted that at BONA, they wish to see more players going overseas as opportunities like that could enable players to make a living from their talent. They remain hopeful that SriLanka and Singapore will soon come knocking, searching for talent as well.
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.
The local netball league is currently languishing in limbo just months after Botswana hosted the successful 2017 Netball Youth World Cup in Gaborone.
As things stand, there is no netball league action and there seems to be no definite answer as to when it will resume. It was just over a year ago when the Botswana Netball Association (BONA) ran a successful league with assistance from loyal sponsors in My Spar supermarket chain. Prior to this, there was a four-year drought when the netball league was not active.
Supermarket retailers Spar were the last national league title sponsors. However it is not yet clear where the relationship between Spar and BONA is heading.
However, what perhaps raises eyebrows and causes mixed emotions within the netball family is that BONA is reported to have a healthy P500 000 bank balance. The amount was announced a few weeks back during the association’s Annual General Meeting (AGM) held in Palapye.
However this week , sources close to the matter said the BONA leadership maintains that the association’s coffers remain in a bad state despite the six-figure bank account that was announced at their recent AGM.
After successfully hosting the NYWC this year and a splendid performance from the local team Dinaletsana, BONA promised Batswana that the under 21 team will be nurtured and assisted to grow. However, some of the team is reported to be idling in the streets.
According to BG Sport sources, the Dinaletsana team members are now wasting their talent, as they lay idle. “Some of these athletes did not do well at school and they are roaming the streets. Some of the lucky ones are now in military training because they need to find means to survive,” the source said.
The source who prefers anonymity accused BONA of not giving the situation the urgency it requires and that the negligence weighs heavily on the national team. “They are killing netball altogether, some of us are left out when it comes to decision making and this has caused a rift within the association.”
Moreover, some team coaches expressed concern over close ties with South African netball authorities. “Such relationships are now affected by the lack of action,” the source said. Reached for comment on the matter, BONA spokesperson Theresa Hirschfeld said she could not comment on the issue. “I will only be in a better position to talk after the Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego led Committee hands over everything to us on the 11th November.”
Over 200 Botswana integrated Sports Association (BISA) and Botswana Primary School Sports Association (BOPSSA) athletes are currently in Maseru, Lesotho where they are expected to compete in the COSSASA games.
The ongoing multisport games started yesterday (Thursday). The official opening of the games was expected earlier today (Friday). The four-day showpiece is expected to conclude this Saturday and the rest of the team is expected back home on Monday.
Botswana is represented by six sport codes including Rugby, Netball, Basketball, Volleyball, Tennis and football. The team is made up of the under 13, 15 and 17 girls and boys.Speaking to BG Sport shortly before departure at the team’s send -off ceremony on Monday in Gaborone, BISA spokesperson Letsweletse Jonas said they would be going all out to defend their championship title in Lesotho.
Botswana secured nine medals in Zimbabwe last year and Jonas said they aim to increase the tally to at least 10. “It will not be a walk in the park, we expect to lock horns with powerhouses from South Africa, Malawi and Swaziland,” he said.
Jonas explained that South Africa and Swaziland have been absent from the tournament for a while and they expect them to come out stronger than ever.
Nevertheless he assured that his team is ready and they will not concede to any pressure imposed on them.
Given the four years that Botswana has been participating at the COSASSA games, Jonas said they have managed to maintain a good record as far as bringing home good results is concerned.
However his wish is to see other sporting codes included in the annual tournament. “We had wished that all our 12 codes could participate but the current six codes are the ones affiliated with COSASSA,” he said.
Jonas said that they have gone to a lot of trouble to ensure that all the athletes return home safely, adding that they have enough official personnel to keep close eye on the team.
According to Jonas, the team included 16 drivers, medical personel and coaches while BOPSSA president Busani Segweni is serving as head of delegation.
Botswana’s leading netball umpire Abednico Chitelo is looking forward to becoming the first local umpire to officiate at the World Netball Youth Cup Games.
Chitelo is the only local candidate who was selected together with other international umpires to officiate at the cup games slated for July 2017 in Gaborone.“I believe my contribution to the netball fraternity means a lot to the community and I am humbled to have worked myself this far to register Botswana at international level.
Everything that I do, I always remember that I am representing my country, that has always been my number one motto,” he said.He has umpired in other international netball games such as world university games before but his heart beams with much excitement to be part of the 2017 umpiring delegation.The world netball governing body - International Netball Federation (INF) - observes and keeps record of all affiliates hence Chitelo’s profile seemed to have impressed the INF.
Although netball is mostly associated with females, Chitelo said officiating at the NYWC is his calling. “It came naturally and as a teacher I found myself surrounded by my children most of the time, I realised that I can communicate better through netball.”He traces his journey in netball as far back as the early nineties and has since been focused in developing and nurturing young talent. Chitelo is currently the head coach of University of Botswana (UB) Crystals Netball Club, one of the best netball teams the country has.
For her part, Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president, Tebogo Sebego-Lebotse, said Chitelo’ s achievement means a lot to the association, “We are proud that he has been given such an opportunity and we hope that more Batswana will continue receiving international recognition,” she noted. She explained that BONA is committed to supporting all Batswana umpires, coaches and even players in any way possible to further develop the code in the country.
Forget about the fact that Botswana Netball under 17 team qualified for the 2017 world cup by virtue of being hosts when they finished sixth out of eight African countries a fortnight ago.
Instead, let us celebrate that by merely hosting the world cup qualifying games and subsequently the first-ever world cup games in the African continent next year, Netball will not only be showing tremendous growth, maturity and bravery, but is a dream come true for the local netball pioneers. Just like in many countries around the world, Netball sport in Botswana started as an exclusively girl’ sport played only at schools. But with time things changed, today men are involved as players, coaches, administrators, umpires and so forth.
However, the tournament is more about how local netball sport started in the early 1990’s. After having tried many things without success, The netballers realised that they were just going in circles, as their national team was always dismally losing with big margins to the likes of Zimbabwe, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania and Uganda and of late South Africa in either regional or continental games. The netballers decided to put their act together by firstly electing into office the administrators who will take them to the next level by putting in place all the necessary structures in place that could help to change the sport.
Among the many decisions the netballers considered was to ensure they bring about change and stability into the sport for good. In order to achieve that, they agreed that the best way forward was to lure in different people with expertise in their respective fields- into the new executive.
The visionary executive
During elections which were held during the Easter weekend holidays of 1994, a new executive committee was democratically ushered. It was composed of amongst others Prisca Mokgadi as the president deputised by a banker, Nozipho Mabe Iranius Motlhopeng (Secretary General), Segaetsho Garekwe (deputy SG) Dendo Thabolo (treasurer) and yours truly as its Public relations and Marketing officer. I was elected in absentia as I had gone to play softball during the Shell Oil Easter Tournament. I came to know that I was in the committee after receiving a call from Volleyball administrator, Jacob Sesinyi who was the election officer.
When he called, Sesinyi was enquiring on how come I had managed to obtain so many votes in my absence. I followed up his call by enquiring from the netballers on who could have nominated and submitted my name.
The mistake I made was to enquire from Prisca and Tebogo Kesupile. The latter was just too bold and responded, ‘It’s me do you have a problem with it?’ She never gave me time to respond but continued to say, “We nominated and submitted your name under Notwane Netball. We simply wanted to tap on your expertise.
“Netball needs people like you who could help to market it. Otherwise we will remain where we are forever, if we as Netballers do not tap on the talent that this country has”. One thing that I have learnt is that I should never refuse to answer a national call. I quickly jumped in though I found myself being thrown into the deep end. As a committee we became a united force, we came up with strategies and put structures in place. Key amongst these was to have national leagues sponsored by Kgalagardi Beverages. We hosted local competitions even for the all national teams. We lost some with big margins, but never got discouraged.
How BONA affiliated to IFN
Having met with other regional administrators in particular the likes of Ntambi Elizabeth Ravella, then President of Netball South Africa, Elize Petersen – President of Namibia Netball and International Federations of Netball Africa representative, Ms Chirwa of Zimbabwe, the incumbent Namibia’s deputy Minister of Sport, Youth and National Service, Agnes Tjongarera etc. we came to realise that within the region, Botswana was the only country not affiliated to IFN. We resolved to do so.
The then Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC), now Commission sponsored the trip. But we had to raise funds to pay for other expenses. I was charged with that responsibility. BONA further delegated yours truly and its president, Mokgadi to travel to the IFN Congress in Birmingham, England which presided over the 9th 1995 World Netball Championships. The premier tournament in international netball is held every four years. The 1995 tournament was contested by a record of 27 national teams after the abolition of apartheid.
Amongst the many highlights was that BONA was officially accepted as IFN affiliate. Further, three countries - South Africa, Namibia and Uganda represented the continent, while at the congress Africa spoke with one voice and Botswana was duly credited for its contributions despite being new members. Teams that participated in the championship starting with those who finished on top four were Australia, South Africa, New zealand, England, Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago, Cook Island, Malawi, Western Samoa, Saint Vincent and the Grenades, Barbados, Antinga and Barbuda, Canada, United States, Papua New Guinea, Namibia, Wales, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Cayman Island, Scotland, Hongkong, Bermuda, Ireland, Malaysia and Malta
The finals game and top
Without doubt the final game will remain in my mind forever. It was played in the state of the art Birmingham indoor arena or stadium that has a capacity of 13,000 and all tickets were sold out. The humdinger games were played between Australia and South Africa with the Aussies winning 68-48 having scored in all the four quarters as follows (17-9, 31-23, 51-35, and 68-48). The Australians were led by coach Jill McIntosh who had a 13-member team composed of Natalie Avellino, Borlase Jennifer Cusack, Nicole Ellis, Liz Fielke Michelle (Captain) Harby, Kathryn Mckinnis, Simone Murphy, Marianne O’Donnell, Shelley Sutter, Sarah Tombs and Carissa Wilson.
While South Africa was led by Coach Marlene Wagner. The team was composed of Basson Johrina,Halgryn Tessa, Herverson Dominique, Odenendal Rene,Hammon Debbie (Captain), Hugo Rese, Keevery Laurie, Kooppers Annie, Kotze Elize, Rossouw Estelle, the most valuable player of the tournament Irene Van Dyk and Benita Van Zyl. During the 1995 games the then Executive Director of the Australian Netball Association, Pam Smith-also a lawyer made a bold statement seeking professional status for netballers, many of whom are competing in the world championship for little or no money.
Birmingham sports arena
As I watched the 1995 tournament inside the state of the art Birmingham sports arena two things kept on nagging my mind namely, Smith’s bold statement of when will Botswana players ever play in major leagues and get paid, as well as admiring the arena because it was my first time to be inside such an indoor facility that has a gym, running track, etc all meant to assist improve the performance of an athlete. I could not help it save to dream about when my country will ever have such a facility.
Those were the days when it was a taboo to hear of local players being paid to play sport, save to be handed courtesy kits as well as daily allowances when on national team assignments. As BONA delegates, our dream and wish was to one day see Botswana sports being played inside a similar arena to the one in Birmingham, further with Botswana players attracting the talent scouts of professional leagues around the world
The torch bearers
The first world tournament was in 1963 in Eastbourne, Australia. Botswana is still to qualify and make an impact on World cup netball games. The dream came true came true 21 years later as one Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego who then was an Under 20 player, president of BONA and Africa and an IFN board member too. It is only a matter of months before BONA plays host to the World championships which will attract 20 countries. Even though it belongs to the University of Botswana, the country has the state of the art arena which I am made to believe is the only one of its kind in the continent.
Further, worth noting is, although we have not advanced as we are supposed to have by now, BONA has been able to export players to different leagues. Players that come to mind are Hilda Binang, Letang Mogotlhwane and Violet Onneile who all went to Singapore. While Sarona Hans, Winnie Hill and Onalenna Theetso are currently playing in Australia. Umpires such as Abednico Chitelo, Lilian Mooki and Boikhutso are recognised internationally. Of paramount importance is that BONA becomes the first African affiliate to host the world cup tournament. Another of our own, the towering Thuli Retshabile is a technical INF delegate. She is qualified to train technical officials anywhere in the world. UB indoor sports arena can equal any other facility in the world, the difference between it and other venues where this kind of games have been played before is that the final games between the top continental giants Uganda and South Africa was played in an almost empty stadium. This was the case throughout the tournament.