Botswana eye Top 8 finish at Softball World Champs

LETLHOGILE MPUANG

The Botswana Senior Men’s National Softball Team have set their sights on finishing within the top eight teams at this year’s World Senior Men Softball Championships in Yukon, Canada. This year will see Yukon host a senior men’s event for the first time, however, the city has hosted three previous world championships – the Junior Men’s World Softball Championship in 2008 and 2014, as well as the 2012 Women’s World Softball Championship.

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The 2017 men’s worldchampionships will be an open tournament, with all games taking place at the Pepsi Softball Centre in Whitehorse, and expected to attract the best softball countries from around the globe. However, the local side has been faced with a number of challenges, with lack of funds the loudest decry, which has tempered with the team’s preparations. The Botswana Softball Association (BSA) have been working tirelessly to calm the situation, and appear to have been successful in their attempt.

The team were engaged in camp late last month with the final squad that will represent the country at the games. In an interview with Gazette Sport, Botswana’s assistant coach Missiel Thompson said preparations were going according to plan. “They (Preparations) are going well, but as we know, we have had our challenges, I think football is the most privileged sport in the world. Because we love softball so much, we told ourselves we will do it, and the boys are responding well physically and mentally,” said the coach.

He added that, “We just had our physio back with the team to address all the minor injuries we have. I think we have everything in order, the balls, bets and every necessary equipment we could need. I believe we have a good chance to make a difference at this year’s competition. We have the right age, which is a mixture of youth and experience, who have participated in similar competitions,” added the Cubian gaffer.

He went on to explain that their team is composed of players who are both good in the defence and also attack, but believes they still need to improve on their offensive part of the game as it what is needed to win at this level.

“We have four good pitchers, two veterans and two young boys who are really on top of their game, and we see improvement everyday in their game, this country has always been fortunate of producing good pitchers. But we have always had a challenge offensively, this is because the structure we have here (Botswana), players are not being taught the right basics​ from a young age, and when they get to this level players tend to struggle, but we are improving on it, if we can have a good defense and a strong attack, we can challenge any team in the world,” he explained.

Quizzed on the team’s target at the tournament he said the following. “We spoke and discusses as the coaching staff, we don’t have to lie about it, we need to acknowledge the quality of Softball we are going to face, so our main goal to be honest to the country is to go onto the next stage (Knockout Stages).

We want to take it step by step, and reach at least the final eight, nine or ten, but at least eight. We going to be facing some hard softball from Countries such as Japan, USA, New Zealand, Australia, and it’s going be difficult,” answered the Thompson. In the end he encouraged players to take inspiration from what the men’s Junior team achieved at last year’s junior Championships in America where they finished within the top 10 at the event. The team is billed to play a friendly with South Africa this week in Gaborone.