Oarabile Bogatsu of Botswana Taekwondo Federation had to battle racism when studying in Malaysia for him to become one of the finest Taekwondo athletes in Botswana. Being an aspiring black athlete based in a foreign country back in 2008 seemed more like a curse than a blessing to him.
Today he proudly lifts his 3rd Dan Black Belt and chases the Grandmaster title. He might just become the first grandmaster to ever come out of Botswana given his deep desire and ambition.
The 30 year- old Bogatsu fell in love with Taekwondo for the very first time when he was studying Software Engineering in Malaysia.
“I tried Karate but it was not exciting enough for me until one day when I walked out of class and saw Taekwondo athletes flying everywhere, I was instantly hooked,” Bogatsu said.Bogatsu fell straight into the blessed hands of Master Tony Lee.
Lee as Bogatsu describes him was such a pain; well at least in a caring and sweet manner. He pushed him to be what he never thought he would become, an athlete of repute. “He was not one for many words, his question was if I really wanted to be a champion, my response to that is what changed my life forever,” Bogatsu said.
A few months down the line Bogatsu won gold during his maiden Malaysian University Taekwondo Championships. It was a scary affair as he was fighting athletes from different countries. Since then he never backed down, with his lips strongly pressed together, he held firmly to the championship title for three consecutive years since 2008.
Dethroning the Malaysian national team champion, who was highly praised in his home country, was enough to send a strong signal that he also, was equally capable. However, it had to take another round of convincing results for him to be considered capable.
“I remember defeating one Asian athlete who failed to accept that he was defeated by a black person. He went all racist on me and it left me deeply hurt,” Bogatsu said.It did not only end there, at times, when he stepped into the elevator, they will all go out leaving him to use the elevator alone.
“They at one point got used to the idea of Africans because during my time, there were only a few of us there,” he said.Bogatsu returned to Botswana in 2012 and continued his journey with coach Gladys Njoroge.
He continued to dominate under her coaching style, winning against the likes of Lesotho, Mozambique and South Africa. He now sits in the executive committee of Taekwondo Botswana as Secretary General.
The ambitious Bogatsu took a break from active fighting this year and will be returning to the ring in full swing next year. He has five more stages to reach before he finally becomes a grandmaster.
“No matter how long it takes I will attain that grandmaster title, that is my ultimate goal,” Bogatsu said. His greatest achievement will be sharing the ring with Korean athlete, Lee D
Local hockey body to incur massive financial loss post Covid-19
Botswana Hockey Association (BHA) President Unaswi Matebu has confessed that her Association will suffer major financial losses post the Covid 19 pandemic that has left the sport fraternity at a standstill.
Matebu recently told this publication that the current situation does not only have tremendous effects on their schedule, but also there will be financial implications more especially that the association does not have full time sponsors.
“We had to cancel most of our calendar activities such as tournaments, national team trainings, Board meetings, and club activities since mid-March this year, all of which have cost us money to prepare for,” Matebu remarked in an interview.
Additionally she said the planning phase for their 5-year Development Plan which was supposed to be launched in June will have to be postponed. Also there are national competitions that were postponed till further notice despite them having already set up teams and having already started preparing.
“Our Indoor Hockey Senior National teams had already started preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations – a World Cup qualifier – that was supposed to be held in June, 2020, in South Africa. Our Field Hockey Senior National teams had already begun preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers that were supposed to be held in August, 2020 in Zimbabwe,” she added.
Moreover, it was going to be an excessively detailed and decorated year for local hockey governing body, with the Youth National teams having already began preparations for the Africa Youth Championships that were billed for September, 2020, in Ghana.
“Player conditioning has obviously been affected because athletes are currently not training as planned and what we had achieved so far might go to waste. We are only hoping that the Continental and World Hockey governing bodies will give us enough time to prepare for these competitions post the pandemic.”
BFA will not declare the season null and void – yet
Amidst wide spreading fears that Botswana’s top flight league might be canceled and considered null and void because of the crippling Covid-19 pandemic, the Botswana Football Association (BFA) has yet to make a determination on the matter and has in fact ruled out scrapping off the season altogether.
Local football observers and pundits alike have already started talking of the possibilities after similar considerations of nullifying their seasons were made in the leagues of other countries especially in Europe. No football activity has taken place in the country since social distancing measures were imposed to avoid the spread of the corona virus.
Local football pundit Fabian Zulu is one of those who believe there is a likelihood the football season will be nullified. “If the current situation persists, then there is a high possibility of declaring the league null and void. This situation wasn’t planned, no one knew that by now we would be facing this kind of situation; so the possibility is very high.
However, in an interview this week, BFA spokesperson Tumo Mpatane said the association has not considered canceling and nullifying the season as an option yet, adding that “currently we are observing a period of extreme social distancing, the ministry of health and wellness will obviously give advice on the possibility of getting back to football.”
Consequently the BFA still awaits the Ministry to declare that the risks of spreading the virus are reduced and come up with a contingency plan. “If the ministry says there is a reduced health risk we will play out the season; if they advise against it we will then see what steps to take. The health of our players is more important and we will be guided by the responsive authorities,” Mpatane remarked.
However, suspension or cancellation of the leagues across the world seems inevitable even as some European leagues, more specifically the English Premier League, are now contemplating a behind-closed-doors campaign to finish off the remaining matches.