Netball looks to rebound after rough patch

  • Focus is on 2023 World Cup
  • BONA aims to tag SA for legacy
  • Development of men’s netball on the agenda

Gazette Reporter

 In 2017, Botswana hosted the Netball World Youth Cup amid rising optimism the game was set for new heights.

But what followed was heart-breaking for netball fans who witnessed the waning and wilting of their favourite sport.

The league has not been played since 2018 but Botswana Netball Association (BONA) spokesperson, Chris Mokeresete, says the game is emerging from its cocoon.

He told Gazette Sport this week that this year the main objective is to improve the quality of club management. “We want to enforce club administration as understanding of club management and administration is still a problem,” he said.

Mokeresete said the other priority is to run a fully-fledged national league after the competition collapsed following the end of the Spar sponsorship three years ago.

The establishment of a youth league to run alongside the seniors’ competition also ranks high on BONA’s list of priorities.

To put the icing on the cake, netball administrators want to see the girls’ team at the 2023 World Cup, which South Africa hosts.

“We also want to see the performance of the Under-20 improve at the AUSC (Region 5) Games,” he added.

There have been strides in putting together a men’s netball side, with games played recently. Mokeresete said the aim is to put in place men’s netball.

The year has begun on a promising note with BONA hosting a mini league as part of plans to return to play. “We are currently running the mini league which started on the 29th January and will run for seven weeks until March 12,” he said.

“The mini league is used as a return back to play funded by the government through BNSC (Botswana National Sports Commission). After the mini we will be starting the main league in the second quarter of the year on a date to be announced.

“We have managed to secure a sponsor for the league and the sponsor is set to be unveiled and launched on a date to be announced soon.”

He said BONA is not replacing any sponsor but instead hopes many partners will come on board to ensure a competitive and well-equipped national league.

With South Africa scheduled to host the 2023 World Cup, Mokeresete said qualification to the biggest netball tournament would be a great achievement for Botswana.

“The motivation that comes with playing at the World Cup inspires every national association to work an extra mile, and that on its own leads to well-structured organisation of events and even renovation of existing netball courts and other infrastructure by national associations,” he said.

“That is the route we wish to undertake. We are in discussions with South Africa to see how we can benefit from their legacy and find ways to be part of their legacy and we hope and trust that our discussions will somehow be concluded for us to benefit from their hosting.”

Botswana will look to reap benefits from South Africa’s hosting after missing out on a similar opportunity, although on a larger scale, during the FIFA men’s World Cup in 2010.