Rebatenne’s participation at African tourney hangs by a thread

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Local table tennis sensation, Tshepiso Rebatenne’s trip to Kenya for the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF) Africa Top 16 is currently in limbo owing to financial constraints.

Rebatenne has been invited by ITTF to the tournament which is scheduled for the 1st-3rd March in Nairobi. ITTF Africa Top 16 is a ranking tournament that caters the best 16 ranked players in Africa. Rebatenne, who tops Botswana’s table tennis rankings is currently ranked 17th in the continent and seeded 10 at the tournament.

Speaking to Global Sport, Rebatenne highlighted that preparations for the tourney are at an advanced stage even though she is facing financial challenges. “So far preparations are going very well, training wise it is fair even though I’m not on camp like one would expect but I do practice every day. Just two weeks ago I was from the Gauteng Open where I managed to gauge my performance. But the main challenge now is funds; I have not yet managed to secure a flight ticket and to secure hospitality funds,” said the 30-year old table tennis player.

Rebatenne went on to state that she had only managed to secure P5, 000 courtesy of Celiat Construction and Plant Hire.

“I have not yet given up yet because this tournament is a qualifier for the World Table Tennis Cup to be played later this year so it gives me a chance to try my luck in qualifying. It can also boost my rankings in the continent because lately, I haven’t been playing more international competitions,” she said.

“The tourney is good for exposure, more so that most of these players are professionals and it is a chance to get connections with clubs abroad and as well as sponsors.”

“Most importantly, I have been told that if I perform well at this tournament I will make it into the Commonwealth Games team, I don’t want to miss the games. We shouldn’t forget that this kind of competition boosts my sports profile as well as that of Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA), maybe in the future we will not struggle much with money,” said Rebatenne.

She further acknowledged all the sponsors who have already pledged some funds. “I will like to thank all those who have extended their helping hand, like the table tennis family, they are doing everything they can to make sure I travel to Kenya, no one wants to see the trip fail. So I’m appealing to the business community to help where they can,” said Botswana’s number one female table tennis player.

When quizzed on how they are willing to help the player, BTTA mouthpiece Zachariah Seabo said, “BTTA has developed a sponsorship proposal document and have since started dropping to various companies and making follow ups. The association itself doesn’t have funds but we will continue trying to source funds so that she successfully go and compete. It is not yet late. We submitted her name for registration, we will fight and win,” said Seabo.

Seabo further said they tried to engage the Botswana National Sports Commission to help but were told that funds are unavailable.