The Botswana senior netball national team has ended the year on a positive note by clinching third place at the Northern Ireland International Netball Festival. The side won bronze medals and are on course to improve their world ranking, they are currently ranked 18th in the global rankings.
A disappointing spell at the Africa Netball Championships in Malawi contributed to the side’s drop in the International Federation of Netball Associations (IFNA) world rankings in recent months. Botswana had been previously ranked 16th in the world; the position made them the third highest ranked African team behind South Africa and Malawi.
Their failure to advance to the semi final stages of the Malawi held competition resulted in a dip in their world form. However, the national team has salvaged their pride by finishing in third spot at the Northern Ireland based four nations tournament. They faced the hosts, Barbados and St Lucia who are ranked in positions 11, 10 and 12 in the world respectively.
Botswana lost the first two games, the first game resulted in a 54-23 setback against Northern Ireland. Another defeat followed against Barbados, the game ended 52-31 in favour of the Caribbean nation. The third group game proved successful as Botswana recorded their first win in the tournament against St Lucia with a 34-33 score line. Both teams then contested the third and fourth place playoff to determine the bronze medal recipients of the competition.
Botswana emerged victorious with a 35-28 result; they achieved a second straight victory against a team ranked six places ahead of them and Botswana Netball Association (BONA) president, Tebogo Lebotse, lauded the team’s performances.
“I am highly impressed by the team’s achievement. The squad consisted of many inexperienced players, most of them were playing their first international games. The most important thing is that our young players got experience and exposure and have learned a lot,” said the BONA president.
She further explained that the team needs to improve and can do so by avoiding complacency. “This year we struggled a bit because complacency started creeping into our play. We have addressed that by showing all players that their places are not guaranteed in the squad. We have a bigger pool of players to select from and that means that every player has to perform to their best ability or risk losing their place in the side,” she explained.
Lebotse concluded by stating that the national team will have the last training camp of the year in December.