With wind and rain lashing the country over the last couple of days, our England U19 squad have managed to escape the typical British summer this year and have headed over 5,000 miles away on a tour of Botswana.
The team are staying in Tlokweng, which lies on the outskirts of Gaborone, the capital of the African nation. Having flown over at the start of last week, the squad immediately immersed themselves in training sessions and have already completed two ferociously contested matches.
A noisy crowd full of standard African flair greeted the U19s in their opening encounter against the Botswana U20s. With six games in six days lying ahead for the side, Jan Crabtree utilised the strength in depth as every player took to the court in an encouraging 71-16 victory.
Despite the result, the local support showed the visitors how to celebrate by flooding onto the court and starting the party with an array of dance moves.
The serious business continued the following day as England face the Botswana senior side. It was a much more physical clash with the more experienced opposition providing a sterner and more competitive challenge. The additional pressure was handled excellently by the U19s as they once again impressed in front of a rumbustious home support to seal a 42-35 win.
Both matches were played at the Otse Police College under the watchful eye of Superintendent Mmoloki Mogale who had welcomed the squad and made sure they had everything they require for their training session. He is also the chair of the Police College Netball Team and was with his side to watch the second game.
There is little rest for the squad as they take to the court again today in another contest against the Botswana senior side, this time at the National Centre. Three additional fixtures follow this week before a trip to the School of the Deaf to watch an exhibition match before getting involved having been invited by the British Embassy.
The England U19 squad in Botswana is as follows;
Amy Clinton, Rhea Dixon, George Fisher, Brie Grierson, Rebecca Hoult, Gabriella Marshall, Vicki Oyesola, Beatrice Skingsley, Alice Travis, Georgie Webster, Lydia Walker, Francesca Williams
They are being supported in Botswana by;
Jan Crabtree – Head Coach
Denise Ellis – Assistant Coach
Katie Baldwin – Team Manager
Joanne Avery – Physiotherapist