*Dinaletsana to sparkle as an expectant nation waits
History will be made on Saturday when Botswana become the first African country to host the Netball World Youth Cup (NWYC).
240 young athletes from 20 countries will take part in the nine-day international sporting extravaganza as the eyes of the netballing world zoom in on the country.
The local girls, Dinaletsana’s opening fixture is against Malaysia at 8pm on Saturday at the University of Botswana’s state of the art Indoor Sports Arena.
Speaking to Voice Sport this week, the Starlets captain Sarona Hans revealed the team’s preparations for the World Cup have been going well.
Indeed, the confident youngster boldly predicted that her side were ‘ready to conquer the world’ after promising performances in games against Zimbabwe and South Africa – who have both qualified for the championships.
Hans is adamant that the experience gained from a recent training camp in Australia, which included playing against some of the country’s best league clubs, will prove crucial during the tournament.
“We played very well against those teams and won most of the games which shows we are prepared enough!” she said.
The skipper, who has been training in Australia through the Botswana National Sports Commission Elite Scholarship, intends to lead from the front at the eighth edition of the U/21 sporting spectacle.
“I believe my experience will contribute a lot to the team. I have shared with them the skills acquired and they shared with me what our coach has been teaching them,” said Hans.
As well as Malaysia, Botswana’s Pool C opponents include the Cook Islands, Uganda and Jamaica – a formidable set of fixtures.
Three-time winners and defending champions New Zealand will start the competition as favourites, with four-time winners Australia, who lost to NZ in the 2013 final, will be a close second.
Speaking to Voice Sport ahead of the World Cup, NWYC excited Operations Manager, Neo Bulayani Gwafila confirmed that the 19 visiting countries had all arrived safely.
“There will be outdoor training venues where teams are going to be preparing for the games. We have secured Maru A Pula School, Botswana National Youth Council courts, UB outdoor courts and Molapo as an indoor training facility,” revealed Gwafila.
The Operations Manager added that it cost P300, 000 to convert Ditshupo Hall into a playing venue of International Netball Federation (INF) standard.
Along with UB’s sports complex, the Hall will be used to host the games.
She explained that countries take care of their participation and accommodation fees while the participating teams are also tasked with paying for the upkeep of match officials as per the demands of the INF.
Gwafila further told Voice Sport that they managed to secure buses for all the individual teams through the help of government and BNSC.
“Transport will also be provided for 310 volunteers housed at UB,” she added.
With the eyes of the world firmly focused on Botswana, it’s finally time for the talking to stop and the netball to start.
POOL A: Sri Lanka, Scotland, New Zealand, Samoa, Northern Ireland
POOL B: Zimbabwe, Australia, South Africa, Barbados, Singapore
POOL C: Botswana, Cook Islands, Kenya, Uganda, Malaysia
POOL D: England, Fiji, Wales, Grenada, Trinidad and Tobago