By Bakang Mhaladi
Gaborone - Botswana senior netball team will hope for a change in fortunes when they take part in the second edition of the Debmarine Namibia Pent Series, a tournament, which has attracted five countries.
The competition will take place at the Israel Patrick Iyambo Police College in Windhoek, starting on Saturday until next week Wednesday.
Last year, Botswana finished fourth, but this time around, the task would even be tougher with the addition of continental powerhouse, Uganda.
The East Africans will replace Swaziland (Kingdom of eSwatini), who dropped out due to financial constraints.
Zimbabwe are the defending champions after winning the 2017 edition.
The addition of Uganda will definitely add gloss to a tournament that is expected to grow in stature and expose the girls to more competitive netball.
Uganda are ranked seventh in the world, with Zimbabwe at number 15 and Zambia at 16, while the hosts Namibia are the lowest ranked at number 36, and will hope to use the competition to move up.
The Pent Series is an International Netball Federation (INF) sanctioned tournament and the results count towards rankings.
All five participating countries are full INF members.
African Netball President, Tebogo Lebotse Sebego said the Pent Series plays a crucial role in the development of the game.
“Africa Netball’s ambition is to have more teams in the Top 12 as that guarantees a spot in the Commonwealth Games, which are a pinnacle event. We currently have three teams in that category.”
“The Pent Series are, therefore, an important opportunity, especially for lower ranked teams to improve their rankings. I must, therefore, commend Namibia Netball for committing to these annual games,” Lebotse Sebego said.
She said in addition to the Pent Series, South Africa will host this year’s Diamond Challenge.
Zambia will host the annual Africa Netball tournament in August. The tournaments are used as qualifiers for the 2019 Netball World Cup to be hosted by Liverpool.
England qualifies automatically as the hosts, together with the top five ranked teams. If England is in the top five, the sixth team qualifies automatically. Two teams that emerge on top during the regional qualifiers in Africa, America, Asia, Europe and Oceania will also make it to Liverpool.