Coachless team BW badly beaten at Africa badminton champs

Baitshepi Sekgweng
TEAM BW: Ndzinge, Kgosidialwa, Ntebala and Moilwa

Botswana’s national badminton team was blown away at the All Africa Senior Championships in South Africa this week, suffering two whitewashes to crash out at the group stages without winning a single game.

The tournament, which ran from 13 – 16 February, saw 13 African nations descend on the Gauteng town of Benoni in search of continental glory.

Looking to build on last year’s 11th placed finish in Uganda, Team BW’s four-player squad featured: Tebogo Ndzinge, Tsamorena Kgosidialwa, Keletso Ntebala and Tumelo Moilwa.

Coachless team BW badly beaten at Africa badminton champs
BEATEN IN BENONI: A focused Ntebala

The quartet found the going extremely tough, thrashed 5-0 by eventual runners-up Mauritius in their opening encounter. The islanders are seeded 41st in the latest World Rankings, some 54 places above Botswana, so the result was perhaps to be expected.

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Fortunes did not improve for Bots in the second match, as Reunion, ranked 55 in the world, handed out another 5-0 walloping, meaning Team BW’s participation in the competition was over on the very first day.

In truth, Botswana were up against it from the start, having travelled to SA without Head Coach, Oreeditse Thela after the association failed to secure his release from work.

Coachless team BW badly beaten at Africa badminton champs
ABSENT: Oreeditse Thela

Thela was due to lead the team at the Championships and had been drilling them since last November’s Botswana International Open, facilitating three training camps as part of the preparations.

In a brief interview with Voice Sport, Botswana Badminton Association (BBA) spokesperson, Thobo Tshosa was quick to absolve the association of any blame concerning Thela’s absence.

“The team left without a coach due to circumstances beyond our control. He is a government employee therefore it’s a process to acquire his release,” explained Tshosa.

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Responding to Voice Sport’s enquiry over whether the request for Coach Thela’s release was facilitated late, the mouthpiece said, “We did not, it was done in the usual manner. The letter has to go through Ministry of Youth, Gender, Sport and Culture and eventually reach the Ministry of Education. However, the letter reached the coach though it was late.”

In the end, star player, Ndzinge, who is a Badminton World Federation (BWF) Level 2 coach, doubled as a player/coach and supported the team throughout, though it was not in an official capacity.

Coachless team BW badly beaten at Africa badminton champs
TOUGH GOING: Ndzinge in Benoni action

“Losing is not something the association wants but the team put up a fight against Africa’s best. This challenge is a lesson to all of us!” concluded Tshosa.

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Meanwhile, Egypt were crowned champions of Africa for the third team, defeating Mauritius 3-2 in Thursday’s tense final.

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