Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) are confident they have assembled a national team capable of glory on the international stage.
A journey that began back in January came to an end last week as the final four places on the eight-player squad were filled.
However, with Covid-19 forcing the sport’s governing body, International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) to postpone all international events for the foreseeable future, the team will have to endure a frustrating, potentially lengthy wait before they are unleashed on the world.
Speaking to Voice Sport, BTTA mouthpiece, Tiro Motswasele revealed Botswana was initially due to take part in the Region 5 Games this month but the tournament has been deferred indefinitely.
Shedding light on the complex selection process used to whittle the squad down to eight, Motswasele explained, “On the first round, back in January, we called all table tennis players and four players were chosen from both men and women. The 2nd round was an open selection and again another four players were chosen.”
The next round saw the eight selected players in both the men’s and women’s categories go head-to-head in a round robin format, with the four who emerged victorious automatically making it into the national team.
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“The 4th round was held over the weekend and only the top 16 players from the previous calendar were allowed to play. Two from both sections were selected to join the two players that were chosen from round three which makes up a team of four ladies and four men,” continued Motswasele.
Speaking on the sidelines, 22-year-old Tshenolo Mooketsi, who confirmed his place in the national team after the third round, said he was thrilled to be part of the squad but understands there is still ample room for improvement.
“I am very happy with my performance as it helps me to keep my spot in the national team. However, I need to continue working hard so that I stay at the top of my game,” said the BDF player, before echoing Motswasele’s confidence at the squad BTTA have assembled.
“All the players that made the cut to the national team are very powerful and I believe we will do well in the upcoming international tournaments!” predicted Mooketsi.
For his part, a relieved Bakang Maloka, who only secured his spot in the final eight at the weekend, was quick to praise his teammates.
“Playing against the likes of Mooketsi, who is very strong, has helped me grow and regain my form, which was critical to me getting selected to the final team. You need to be on top of your game to defeat Mooketsi, because he is my toughest opponent thus far!” said the 23-year-old Moshupa Spinners star, adding he cannot wait to be on the country’s colours and make the nation proud.
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Boitshwarelo Butale (Smash Maniacs)
Tshepiso Rebatenne (Nhabe)
Olorato Ramagapu (Smash Maniacs)
Constance Kuswani (BDF)
Tshenolo Mooketsi (BDF)
Bakang Maloka (Moshupa Spinners)
Boago Malobela (Smash Maniacs)
Sean Dekop (Nhabe)