Since being accredited in 2009 in South Africa, Botswana Table Tennis Association (BTTA) International Umpires (IUs) have not had the opportunity to officiate at international games. Thanks to the 2nd African Youth Games, the umpires will now get their chance.
Botswana currently has fifteen IU’s (with white badges) and the Gaborone 2014 games will give them the much needed experience and exposure for international events. The umpires will be mentored by top officials from South Africa and Egypt.
According to the chairman of the Table Tennis Local Organizing Committee, Kuzanani Motswagole, they have made sure they capitalize on hosting the Youth Games to improve in all sectors of the game, including officials who are a critical part of the sport.
He said the games will help them gauge the progress of their officiating locally and see if they cannot further accredit their officials to blue badges, which will enable them to officiate at bigger stages in the world.
“The youth games have given us the opportunity of a lifetime to take our umpires a step closer to their blue badges.” Motswagole added that since the beginning of the year they have been preparing their officials (both national and international) for the youth games and now all that’s left for them to go and do is do what they do best.
Speaking to the Voice Sport, BTTA umpires representative, Shadreck Matshidiso, could not hide his excitement about the Games. “We are definitely excited about these games and the opportunity they have presented to us as Botswana white badge umpires. We will also have a refresher course to update ourselves on the latest laws and apply them on the youth games. There is no doubt that practical is better than theory, and we now have a chance to apply laws which we have never had a chance to do in local games,” he revealed.
Matshidiso added that going forward many of them will be given opportunities to officiate in other regional competitions, and he applauded women officials who have matched the number of men. Four international umpires will complete the number of officials at the games and bring with them a wealth of experience to share with locals.