BONA ‘untangles’ appointment of Malawian coach

  • Critics worry Saenda will become a spy, albeit not by his choice

Tlotlo Kebinakgabo

Botswana Netball Association (BONA) has come into the open to explain the appointment of Malawian coach, Griffin Saenda, for selection of the national team.

Saenda was roped in on Tuesday last week for a month-long exercise to help BONA in the selection of the national team.

The development sparked instantaneous criticism, with many in the netball circles questioning the wisdom of hiring from the competition for team selection.

Contacted to comment, BONA’s publicity general Terrassa Hirschfeld noted that they were aware that some people were unsettled by their unusual decision. “But they must understand that we haven’t hired him on permanent basis, Hirschfeld said.

“He is just here to help with selection of the national team because we want to come up with a strong and balanced team. He will be working in partnership with local coaches and we believe that they will learn a few things from him as he is an experienced coach.”

Hirschfeld added that another reason for hiring Saenda was a need to avoid issues of favouritism when picking the national team. “We all know that there have been cases where people complained that the national was made up of players from one team,” she said.

“We are trying to avoid that here. We want balance in our team. We believe with Saenda, we will have a pool of players who really deserve to be in the national team.”

The fact Malawi is regarded as one of Africa’s strongest also had a bearing on BONA’s choice of Saenda. “If at all we are to become netball powerhouses then we must start working together as a region (southern Africa),” Hirschfeld continued. “I personally am a team work believer.”

According to the International Netball Federation’s world rankings based on matches up to November 2017, Malawi is sixth in the World whereas Botswana is 21st out of 39 countries.

Saenda is expected to help Botswana come up with a competent team that will represent the country at the World Cup qualifiers in June in Zambia. “We have already confirmed our participation for the qualifiers,” Hirschfeld noted. “It is our aim to make it to the World Cup, and it all begins with selection of a strong and balanced team.”