Bots’ biggest netball moment arrives

By Bakang Mhaladi

GABORONE – Botswana’s biggest netball moment is just hours away as countries arrive for the 2017 Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC) which starts in the capital tomorrow, running until July 16.

Cook Islands became the first team to touch down at the Sir Seretse Khama International airport in the capital last week Thursday, serving a timely reminder that the event is moments away.

This would be the first time a world netball competition is held in Africa.

Jamaica, Barbados, Zimbabwe, Sri Lanka, Samoa, Wales, Scotland, Northern Ireland, Uganda, Trinidad and Tobago and Fiji arrived in Gaborone on Tuesday.

While Grenada, South Africa and New Zealand arrived on Wednesday. Malaysia, who are Botswana’s first opponents tomorrow night, were expected to arrive yesterday, together with England, Singapore and Australia.

A member of the tournament’s Local Organising Committee, Patric Tlotleng declared Botswana was ready to host the tournament which brings together 20 countries.

He urged locals to purchase tickets and throng the playing courts in numbers.

The University of Botswana netball court, which hosts the opening and closing ceremonies, has a capacity of 5000.

“The country is ready to welcome other countries for the historic tournament, a first for Africa and Botswana,” he said.

Tickets sales were off to a slow start but the organising committee is confident that after the countrywide trophy tour, excitement will pick up and help sales.

“We urge Batswana to purchase tickets while it is still early and before other nations snatch them up,” the organising committee’s general manager, Tebogo Kesupile said.

The hosts, meanwhile, held a send-off ceremony for the team that will represent the country at the netball tournament.

The team’s assistant coach, Kagisano Mawela said the young girls are raring to go although there are nerves within the camp.

“We are still working on the team’s mental fitness in order to ensure there are no nerves. We have been talking to them and they attended a counselling session,” she said.

Mawela said the team has improved in the technical aspects and they are confident of putting up a good fight. Botswana start against Malaysia tomorrow night. Other teams in Botswana’s Pool C are Cook Islands, Jamaica and Uganda. All the 70 games will be played on two international standards venues with sprung floor.

Saturday fixtures:

08:00 Sri Lanka vs Scotland

08:00  New Zealand vs Northern Ireland

10:00 Australia vs Zimbabwe

&”:”” South Africa vs Barbados

10:00  Jamaica vs Cook Island

12:00  Fiji vs Trinidad & Tobago

14:00 England vs Wales

18:00 Opening Ceremony

20:00 Botswana vs Malaysia

(All times CAT)

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