The Vultures senior national rugby team are back home after an uninspired performance during their recent Rugby Silver Cup campaign in Zambia last week. Having lost to the hosts, Zambia and Madagascar, in the six nations tournament, the Vultures will now play a waiting game to see whether they remain in the Silver Cup or would be relegated to the Bronze lower ranks.
“We are waiting for log standings to see whether we remain in the Silver Cup and this will depend on the aggregation,” said the Botswana Rugby Union (BRU) Secretary General Ernest Mantsi in an interview this week. Mantsi said the team that wins first place in the Silver Cup is promoted to the elite Gold Cup while the team that acquires 6th position will be relegated to the Bronze cup. Moreover, Mantsi said the winners of the Bronze cup will be elevated to the Silver cup.
“We are waiting for the results to see who will be relegated to the Bronze cup and this may take up to one week after the competition is concluded.” Mantsi said it will be up to the Africa Rugby officials to determine who goes or remains in the Silver cup. Mantsi said there are other factors that can determine this such as Africa Rugby officials investigating whether there were any defaulters during the six-nation tournament. Meanwhile, Mantsi said the Vultures who competed in Zambia are a fairly new team in terms of both the players and the technical department.
“They would have loved to have done better at the Silver cup but going further the Botswana Rugby Union will be setting new targets for them.” Furthermore, Mantsi said it is important for the BRU to start preparing for next year’s Silver Cup. With the 2018 Silver cup behind them, Mantsi said they will now focus on the Seven’s national men’s team who are expected to compete at an Africa tournament this October. In other matters, Mantsi said they continue to struggle with attracting sponsorship especially for the national team which is expensive to maintain.
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.
The ministry of Youth Empowerment Sports and Culturel Development is committed to growing all forms of sport and promoting it as a source of employment.
Assistant Minister Kefentse Mzwinila told the international rugby delegates and stakeholders at the recent Rugby Africa Annual General Assembly held in Kasane that sport tourism was one of the biggest economic engines in the world hence there is need to ensure that the country does not only compete at highest levels but also attracts large sporting events.
“We endeavor not only to share our hospitality and warmth as people, but we further always seek new opportunities for growth and partnership to develop this country,” he said. Mzwinila urged delegates at the international conference to acknowledge Botswana’s potential for tourism investment and growth.
He applauded the Botswana Rugby Union (BRU), for their tremendous growth in the past few years. “Long before we had a national rugby league in Botswana, Rugby was played in our army barracks and I am happy that it has been developed to a level it is in currently. It is also heartening to notice that many of our children in schools are actively involved. I commend you for that growth BRU and please keep the momentum going,” the minister said.
Mzwinila said the future of the game and youth lies in education and sport development. He pleaded with all delegates to work together in developing more age grade competitions within the region and on the continent. “Without Sport, the education of our Youth is incomplete, which in turn means that as a nation we then run a risk of lack of a holistic growth and a well-rounded upbringing for our future generations.”
Mzwinila appealed to the private sector to participate and assist in form of funding sport development programmes such as the Rugby grassroots ‘Re Ba Bona Ha’ (RBBH) and Schools of excellence. The workshop which ran for a week attracted over 37 countries from the African continent. Some of the issues discussed included rugby development strategies across countries and the planning ahead of the year 2017.