- 16-strong team has been in camp since November
- Only two slots are available to Africa at the 2024 World Cup
- Botswana must go past Tanzania, Lesotho, SA, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia to get there
After being hard at work to qualify for the highly-anticipated World Baseball Softball Confederation (WBSC) Africa Women’s qualifiers that are billed for the national diamond grounds in Gaborone from 6 to 10 February, a lean and mean senior women’s national softball team has been picked, albeit in the midst of selection controversies.
The team has been in camp since November 2022 when the selection process began with 35 players from various teams called.
When the crucial games get underway, Botswana will lock horns with Tanzania, Lesotho, South Africa, Uganda, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Zambia in a battle for only two available slots for African teams at the 2024 World Cup that will be co-hosted by Ireland, Italy and Spain.
Police IX, Titans and Vikings
Led by Tawina Phibion, coaches have been trimming the team down to the required number stage by stage, looking keenly at individual progress and performance.
Coach Phibion has finally announced his final team that comprises of 16 players mainly from top performing teams in last year’s competition, among them Police IX, Titans and Vikings.
However, Gazette Sports is reliably informed that some players and administrators were not happy with the selection process, saying some players – especially players based in the south of the country – were highly favoured by the technical team.
But Coach Phibion seems unaffected by these accusations and says the team is in high spirits and has made considerable progress in its quest to qualify for the world softball showpiece.
“They are in Jwaneng right now and the preparations are right on track,” he told Gazette Sports. “Everyone is happy with the squad inspite of the allegations whose only aim must be to destabilise the team ahead of the games. “The response is awesome and we are not going to let any negative energy run through us.
“I do not select the team alone because there is a whole technical team that contributes to picking it on merit and credit. Everyone who made the final list deserves to be on the team and we are confident that we are going to give our opponents a run for their money.”
Strongest team ever
Impromptu interviews with some of the selected players bore the coach out, saying the team was picked on merit and that they were all happy with the approach of the technical team to the selection. “We believe that every individual on this team deserves the call-up, hence we are concentrating on training to make sure we become the strongest team ever,” said one.
“Most of the players here are from teams that have finished on the podium last season. They also got individual awards and we are happy to have players of that calibre among us. We aim for nothing but to qualify for the World Cup and are confident that we shall conquer.”
One of the two teams that will qualify for the World Cup will join Group A alongside the USA, Great Britain, Australia and Ireland while the other team will enter Group B together with Spain, Cuba, Costa Rica and the Netherlands.