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Netball: One step forward, two steps back…

Just like a blossoming flower under the right conditions, a lot was expected from the local netball fraternity, multitudes showed interest in the sport and both junior and senior national teams were doing well continentally. However, at a time when many now are expecting the flower to produce the desired fruits, the tree is wilting, leaving the optimistic sporting family a blurred picture about the future.

Under the leadership of one of the renowned female sports leaders, Tebogo Lebotse-Sebego, who was an envisaged messiah to transform the sport, the picture on the ground according to some netball lovers is not pleasing. Sources who have been boiling inside, this week shared with this newspaper how difficult life is at Botswana Netball Association (BONA).

They lament that the sport is on a sick bed and needs urgent attention.

“This is appalling, if things were done accordingly we would be far by now, but what is happening is just an indication that we are regressing and this is the responsibility for all of us as the netball family to sit down and make sure that the sport grows,” a source told Weekendsport.

Netball barely two years ago was a code that was envied by many and the expectations were that it will carry the pride of this country, by then the youthful team that participated in the 2014 Africa Youth games finished on position three while the senior team presence was also felt in Africa. The netball league was also active but it has since died with the teams now competing in the constituency tournaments.

“This is also a cause of concern, the constituency tournaments should feed the league not the other way round,” noted another source. This is vehemently said it shows how drastic the netball challenge is. “All the girls are in constituency, the thing is the league failure; it is costing us and the situation is so extreme because now the netball is on a downward spiral,” Miscellaneous coach Mercy Kololo said. The same situation prevails even in Francistown where one of the best netball teams Tasc it is also dead as the players are busy in the Presidential tournaments.

For her part the BONA President Lebotse Sebego admitted that they have lost a number of players but they have little to do because of the financial benefits at the league. “Yes we have a lost a significant number of players and officials to the constituency league, but there is very little we can do about this because the constituency league is much more attractive financially.” However she highlighted that they keep engaging with those players who present the highest potential as national athletes so they are not lost. As for the league the Lebotse-Sebego just like last year where BONA hosted a sponsor-less league “we will host the league again this year with or without a sponsor.”

Again the other factor that is being said to be having a hand in the sport “regression” is the next year’s Under 21 World Cup which according to the insiders has taken all energies. “If you look the 2017 is the only focus and the leaders seem to be forgetting about the local structures like league, you will agree that time and again the team that will be competing next year is taken to camps and tournaments that mostly address their needs, what are we saying to the other structures?” another source asked rhetorically.

However the President has justified their focus on the next year’s event saying “this is inevitable, we are preparing for the first world cup in Botswana and the first netball world event in Africa so the stakes are high.” It is said that despite hosting a milestone event next year, the sport think tanks should not forget about the local league because the expectation by the descending visitors will be to find a lively netball structures than the status quo.

The issue of the world cup it appears it has been ballooning inside many as they also contend that even the committee has sidelined other able bodied people who could have taken the job, the resignation of one of Sebego’s lieutenant Ntebogang Maplanka is reported to be another sign that indeed there not that glitters is gold. The President concluded by challenging “those who would claim that the BONA leadership is neglecting netball simply does not understand sport development as the world cup bid is specifically to fast track the sport development in Botswana.”

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Sport

Rollers make digital strides

11th June 2021
rollers_0121

A recent study shows that Township Rollers is not only popular within the perimeters of Botswana, but has also made significant steps within the digital football platforms in Africa.

Out of the 70 African football clubs ranked on the African football digital benchmark, Township Rollers comes on the 35th position backed by a massive social media following. The club website records more than 399 000 followers and is seen as the most interactive in the local game.

This is consistent with the recent study conducted by FIFA- world football governing body- that Rollers is the only team locally that makes use of its digital platforms.

Notably, it comes out that the gap between Township Rollers and the rest of the 15 Premier League clubs is abysmal, this therefore works against creating a strong BPL brand value.

Rollers is the only club with more than 50 000 followers on Facebook, more than 20 000 followers on Twitter while its Instagram platform stands strong at 27 800 followers.

However, it is found out that much of the BPL brand value is killed by some social Facebook football fan accounts.  They have stood long and have thus attracted more followers than the official accounts. Pages like Killers Pass and Botswana Football have consequently seen more than 100 000 following. Both of the accounts give 24 hour on-going updates of football’s latest news, transfers, results, video and live updates.

FIFA has therefore come to a conclusion that the two social media pages have grown interactive since they incite followers to answer and present their impressions about local football.

It comes into the open that 70 percent of domestic premier league clubs do not have official websites. This according to FIFA, kills the brand and visibility of clubs hence failure to attract lucrative sponsors by the clubs. FIFA also found out that the remaining 30 percent of clubs with websites are lacklustre and found wanting when it comes to their online presence. But in this regard, Rollers is on pole position.

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Sport

GU finally snatches Ditsele

3rd June 2021
Lebogang Ditsele

Hard tackling midfielder, Lebogang Ditsele has completed a move from Botswana Premier League (BPL) champions, Jwaneng Galaxy, to Gaborone United in a reported lucrative two-year deal, WeekendSport can confirm.

The Reds have finally made their move for their long-time target and the enterprising midfielder is said to be happy to have completed the transfer after a heavy fall out with Galaxy management.

He wants to play football that pays, something which Galaxy cannot offer and the allure of GU was certainly too much for Ditsele to turn a blind eye.

The team as led and directed by construction magnate, Nicholas Zakhem- who is reported to have given ‘CCTV’ a mouth-watering P30 000 per month plus winning bonuses contract in demonstration of their seriousness to win silverware.

Sometime in March, the industrious player gave Galaxy an ultimatum-to either improve his contract benefits or let him go-after a decision was taken to offer the whole team pay cuts amid the devastating effects of the corona virus pandemic.

Galaxy had arrived at a conclusion of giving each player P 3000 until a time football returns to the field with moneyed sponsorships.

“We are proud to have signed him because he will add quality to our squad once football returns. Always a quality player and like him and he is now available, you don’t say there is no football, you tie him down before other clubs beat you to his signature,” said club Director, Nicholas Zakhem.

It is believed that Ditsele has always recognized GU as one of the country’s leading clubs, capable of competing for the grandest prizes. Ditsele was at Gilport Lions before he was snatched up by Galaxy and now GU.  His moves come as no surprise as his dream has always been to play for high paying clubs.

No doubt, Ditsele has enjoyed his years at Galaxy, where he is feted by the supporters, but the lad has always felt that the time is right to move on. Ditsele leaves having a year left on his contract.

It is impossible to dispute the value and service that he has given to the club, with the last season being his best, winning the premiership title.

Once Galaxy has sent him to overseas club at Highlands Park but returned home after a short stint.

However, the fan favourite, who has had an on and off relationship with the national team, The Zebras, was never going to be held by the terms of his contract.

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Sport

No injury problems for Amos

2nd June 2021
Nijel Amos

Despite encountering an injury scare ahead of the IAAF Diamond League circuit this week, Nijel Amos’ Olympic dream is still on track and he remains ever capable to stun the world by replicating his famous feat at the 2012 Olympic Games.

This was confirmed by his coaches and doctors after the Botswana star suffered a minor calf injury that forced him out of the weekend race. The multiple conqueror of 800m races is expected back on the track on June 9th to shake off this injury scare and face the possibilities of winning another Olympic medal. This likelihood only has one month to go!

Amos remains the only Motswana athlete to ever win a medal at the Olympic Games, a rare but magnificent accomplishment that still lingers in the memory of Botswana sport fraternity. At the time, he was only 18 years and strange enough, that silver medal felt like Gold for many.

His anticipated presence at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics is on course to renew the long standing rivalry between him and the Kenyan 800m world record holder, David Rudisha. This is the same Kenyan competitor who won Gold when Botswana’s Amos came second in a race that would become the toast of the competitions at the London Olympics.

However, two years later, at 2014 Commonwealth Games, Amos dethroned Rudisha in another breath-taking race that confirmed and sparked the ongoing thrilling competitiveness — filled with pleasure, pain and sporting hatred- between the two.

When Amos was beaten in London, he never cared who won the race but was ecstatic to have finished at the podium, writing his name into Olympic Game folklore.

But in Glasgow, for Rudisha, defeat seemed not to have diminished his hopes. After the finish, when the lacerations were sharpest and the wound deepest, Rudisha was pictured hugging Nijel Amos, and congratulating him for a job well done.

Then, Amos was just 20 years, oozing with confidence. The shy looking Rudisha wrapped a Kenyan flag around his back and went on a lap of honour to celebrate his silver medal.

If there was disappointment Rudisha masked it with the skill of an actor. He smiled and waved as he received a standing ovation. “Amos is a tough competitor and he was very good,” Rudisha once admitted, stating matters of sporting facts that would follow between the two runners. Win. Lose. Win. Lose.

But then, there have been echoes of a swollen Muhammad Ali after his defeat to Joe Frazier, winking at the hundreds of fans who had converged at his hotel, determined to show light on his darkest day. The bruises on that day were to Rudisha’s record, not his face. Like Ali, he promised to be back.

But that night was about Amos. A callow 18-year-old who finished second to Rudisha at London 2012 sharpened his confidence, hardened by beating his idol twice on the Diamond League circuit, grew with each passing year.

However, both athletes began to suffer sporting injuries of their own, they lost the edge they were well-known for and it is why at the 2016 Olympic Games, the bookmakers were upset when they could not meet at the final. It was Amos who faltered in the heats and although Rudisha became the first Kenyan to retain an Olympic title, it was not as scintillating as it was in 2012.

Now with a month to go, Amos is living in prayer, hoping he stays free from injuries. He is looking forward to become the star again. He has won everything at the diamond league and broke every national record, but his eyes are still fixed on the ultimate prize- the Gold medal at the international stage, with or without David Rudisha.

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