Financial Woes Bury Botswana’s Netball Hopes

It is a sad moment for the opportunity being missed by the players who were raring to go and the implications for the reputation of the nation as BONA withdraws its team from the World Cup qualifiers after carrying out rigorous selections just under a month ago


The Botswana Netball Association (BONA) will not send a team to the Netball World Youth Cup Africa Region Qualifiers due to financial constraints.
Regarded as one of the strong contenders, Botswana will thus become conspicuous by its absence from the competition that is set to take place in Pretoria, South Africa from 17 to 24 March 2024.
BONA had selected a provisional squad of 21 players for the competition. The players were selected from a pool of 71 athletes representing five different teams in an U-21 National Team Selection Tournament that was held on 17 February at BONA Courts in Gaborone.

The teams included South Zone A, South Zone B, North Zone, Re Ba Bona Ha Maun Centre, and Mogoditshane Centre of Sports Excellence.
It was a rigorous selection process that underscored the commitment and potential of Botswana’s youth in the sport, making the last minute withdrawal from the qualifiers all the more distressing.
BONA spokesperson, Mokeresete Mokeresete, lamented in a telephone interview: “We are no longer going to South Africa because we do not have the funds to do so. Our coffers are dry. The little funds that we had are finished.”

Stark reality
This stark reality brings under sharp relief the challenges faced by Botswana’s sports organisations in securing adequate funding for international competitions.
The implications of the withdrawal extend beyond the immediate disappointment for the players and BONA.
“It also affects our image because it is the desire of every association to send players to competitions like this one,” Mokeresete noted. “This is a high-profile competition that qualifies for the World Cup. By not competing, it means we are not going to compete against the best in the world.”

Invaluable experience
The sentiment underscores the broader impact on Botswana’s netball scene, denying young athletes the invaluable experience of international competition and an opportunity to measure their skills against some of the best players in Africa and the world.
Reflecting on the mood of the players and of BONA, Mokeresete stated: “It is very sad for us. We wish we had the funds to send the young players to this competition.”
The loss is not just in terms of potential accolades but in the growth and development opportunities that such international exposure affords young athletes.

Lucara National Netball League
But inspite of this setback, BONA is looking ahead to domestic competitions, with the Lucara National Netball League currently in recess to allow for the second transfer window and registration of new players.
This break will end in the first weekend of April when BONA resumes the second round of the league, which will run until 17 May 2024.