Africa Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 Table Tennis Championships will kick off at Botho University Halls in Gaborone tomorrow.
The tournament is expected to on the 29th of this month.
Even though sponsors of the tournament are yet to be formally announced, Botho University, Oasis Motel, Impression House, Double Happiness, Master Joinery and Yarona FM have confirmed their sponsorship of the games.
The championships will pit players from AUSC affiliate members in southern Africa. A total of 131 participants are expected from Angola, Malawi, Namibia, South Africa, Zambia, Zimbabwe and hosts Botswana.
According to the Public Relations Officer of Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA), Zachariah Seabo, the tournament is aimed at developing table tennis in AUSC’s Region 5.
“The competition, which is sanctioned by the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF), is meant to produce players who can be competitive on the international stage,” Seabo said.
“The competition’s sanctioning by ITTF is expected to boost the morale of the players and encourage countries to support the sport further so athletes may improve their rankings and their countries’ place in international tennis.”
South Africa and Angola are some of the favourites’ of the tourney as they dominated in the last edition that was held in Namibia in 2015 from which Botswana brought home only one bronze medal.
Said Seabo: “Each country is expected to send a team of 13 players – five female and five male players plus three officials. Botswana will field two teams, A and B, thus a team of 26.”
For his part, the national team coach Welcome Tema says he is disappointed with the way things are going at present. “The tournament is here but we are not training as a team,” he points out. “It is not easy to monitor players while they are at their clubs.”
According to Tema, the last time the team was in camp was in December. “The team was in good shape in terms of physical training and all table drills,” he says. “Their stamina level was high and they were ready for competition.”
Nevertheless, he says he will work on the players’ psychology to instill a fighting spirit in them. “They have to compete knowing that they are representing the country and shouldn’t have to think much about the failed camp,” he says.
Bakang Maloka, Boago Malobela, Tirelo Tshipinare, Tshenolo Mooketsi, Kola Modisathebe and Masa Lesole.
Tshepiso Rebatenne, Boitshwarelo Butale, Olorato Ramagapu, Namibo Mbulawa, Oratile Kedisaletse and Game Kebodiwang.
Thapelo Molefhi, Phetso Jack, Katlo Pelontwa and Gofamodimo Matlale.
Tshephang Mothamme, Tshephang Kebodiwang, Shatinah Shapi, Kaone Matlhare and Godirileone Bagwasi.
Para Table Tennis
Queet Tsiane and Onneetse Isaiah