As Dinaledi get green light for Africa Cup
But will miss Pent Series Tournament
Australian-based players may miss the tourney
The unsettling uncertainty over the senior national netball team’s competition at the Africa Netball Cup has been cleared after Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) gave them the green light to shine at the continental showpiece that will be held in Namibia.
‘Dinaledi’, as the national team is fondly known, will however not be able to compete in the Pent Series tournament which is a prelude to the Africa Cup and will be held from October 31st to November 5th.
The girls lost their Pent Series Six Nations Tournament slot whose confirmation deadline was September 20th, due to prolonged negotiations with BNSC regarding their appearance at the two tournaments.
As much as Dinaledi have to keep their focus and eyes on the bigger prize – The Africa Cup, missing the Pent Series is catastrophic considering that there was great likelihood for the team to use the tournament to gain match fitness and momentum ahead of the bigger continental championship.
Local netball has been dormant for the longest time with the absence of the national league, making things even difficult for the national team, which has been bedevilled by a string of poor results.
Though in the past weeks Botswana Netball Association (BoNA) maintained that the slot for the Pent Series was safe, it has since lost it as other nations grabbed the opportunity with open hands when they got the invitation to participate in the tournament.
Speaking to Voice Sport this week, BoNA spokesperson, Mokeresete Mokeresete, confirmed the developments.
“The national team will only compete at the Africa Cup. As for the Pent Series, we did send our confirmation to participate, however, other teams had already booked all the available spots since only six nations were needed for the tourney. Our confirmation came later than we had hoped, so other countries were also interested and ready to confirm and they were given a chance,” he said.
Botswana makes a return to the Africa Cup after missing the 2019 edition since they opted to compete at the MI Nations Cup in Singapore as the two tournaments were played at the same time.
With BONA having assembled a preliminary list of 37 players, selections for the national team will be held on the 16th of October while training will commence on the 22nd – 24th of October.
The final training camp will be staged from the 28th of October until the 6th of November.
The team will be led by Sithulile Mlotshwa assisted by Neo Ntwaagae.
However, from the preliminary list, Australian-based players have been included.
The duo is Tira Matija and Sarona Hans-Rapoo.
“They will not make it due to finances; it is our wish for them to be part of this team. We are working on how we can manage to bring them on board as we build towards the Africa World Cup qualifier next year,” said Mokeresete when quizzed if the Aussie -based players will be available for selection at the actual tournament.