For the love of the game

Baitshepi Sekgweng
GOING AGAIN: Action from last year's Liquid Open

Volleyball action returns with BVF Cup but no prize money

After eight frustrating months of inactivity, local volleyball returns to the courts this weekend, bouncing into action for the first time this year.

Starting with the groups stages, the Botswana Volleyball Federation (BVF) Cup will run from 9th – 30th September with all affiliated clubs taking part: 14 in the men’s draw and 12 in the women’s.

Working on a P200, 000 budget, the cash-strapped BVF confirmed there will be no prize money on offer, although participating teams will receive P4, 000 in ‘mobilization fees’ to ease their financial strains.

Ensuring there will be a competitive element to proceedings, the cup will serve as a qualifier for the Zone VI Interclub Championships, with two places up for grabs. It will also be the first official outings for newly-associated teams: Block Busters of Serowe, Motlakase of Palapye and the rebranded, University of Botswana, who previously competed as Yaros Olympic Club.

Speaking to Voice Sport, BVF Vice President Administration, Ndibo Lebala explained the aim was purely to get clubs playing again, something that hasn’t happened since the Liquid Open in December.

He admitted they had been hoping to put a league together but were unable to raise the necessary finances.

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“When things were promising we requested the Ministry of Sports to assist us with administration costs of the league and they gave us P150, 000. As we kept looking for sponsors, Mascom Wireless showed interest; they told us they were not in a position to sponsor now but gave us P50, 000 to top up whatever we had,” revealed Lebala.

Insisting there was light at the end of the long, gloomy tunnel, he added, “If we do short tournaments like this we will gradually get back.

“If funds permit, there is likelihood of having another tournament in February, while talks are in the pipeline with Liquid Intelligent Technologies to sponsor another competition before the year ends.”

Lebala added the whole volleyball fraternity were united in getting behind the Cup, with officials agreeing to forgo their usual match fees.

“Where necessary, the federation will cover their accommodation, transport and meals,” he said.

Dismissing complaints from some clubs that they have had no time to prepare for the tournie, Lebala maintained all were given ample notice.

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“We informed teams of this tournament in July and again on August 14!” he said.

However, this comes as a surprise to Mafolofolo Head Coach, Boitumelo Botsang, is adamant they were only made aware of the tournament last Monday (28 August) at the special congress.

“We have not yet started training due to finances. We don’t have players because we lost about five players from the men’s team and some are outside Gaborone, so we are not yet sure of our participation,” he told Voice Sport.

Singing a similar tune, Kalavango Head Coach, Kabelo Marumo, admitted they were struggling to raise a team.

“We are not prepared at all for the tournament because we do not have a team that will compete. We tried to start training this week because information about the tournament was released this week but to get players to start training takes a long time! If we are lucky to have six players on the day we will honor the fixtures but we haven’t started yet,” moaned Marumo.

Despite this uncertainty, the battle to make the quarter-finals is set to commence on Saturday, with games taking place at SSKB for the southern pools and Serowe College of Education for the northern block.

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The Grand Final is scheduled for SSKB on Independence Day.

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