Netball: Injury knocks Botswana's debut

By James Ihaka

After 37 years of waiting, the Botswana netball team finally got their day on court.

But for Botlhale Moeng the chance to shine at the World Netball Championships came crashing down yesterday after only five minutes.

The goal attack left the court with an knee injury, carried by her teammates, as the side could not afford to bring a doctor or physiotherapist.

Moeng, one of the young stars of the Botswana side, had been on court for only a few minutes in the third quarter - replacing another shooter, Motlhokwa Motsumi, who had limped off court injured.

The double injuries were the latest glitch in the debut of the Botswanans, who arrived on the eve of the tournament, two days late, and had to call off their practice match against Fiji after both teams headed to different locations on Saturday.

But despite the injury toll and being outplayed for much of the match in the process of losing 54-35 yesterday to Wales, the Africans showed courage to take the final quarter by one goal.

"We were under pressure right from the start because the other teams have been here before so they've got more experience than us," said goal shooter Tebogo Radipotsane.

"But now we are all very proud to have played our first game here at the World Championships, it means a lot for the sport in our country and we are hopeful we can get better."

The 21-year-old information systems student at Limkokwing University College said the side would take heart from their first match, although they had a few reservations.

"I'm not sure about the food here ... we are not used to it," she said. "[And] actually the coldness here can be a bit too much sometimes."

Radipotsane, a promising young shooter to watch, said she was not afraid to meet the Silver Ferns in their final pool game tomorrow.

Botswana coach Joseph Makakaba was reasonably happy after yesterday's game although he admitted his team's lack of height in the mid court had been cruelly exposed.

"I believe we will gain a lot of experience from this match," he said.

Asked why a man was steering the national team, he said Botswana men were "very passionate about netball".

"There are women coaches in my country but usually the best teams are coached by men, there are a lot of men involved in the sport."

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