The Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) has set a target of 30 medals from 40 athletes expected to compete at the 2017 Africa Union Sports Council (AUSC) Region 5 championships scheduled for Maputo, Mozambique this weekend.
The team is expected to leave for Mozambique tomorrow (Thursday). BOKA recently exceeded expectations at the Union Federation of African (UFAK) Karate Championships in Cameroon, scooping seven medals with a team of nine athletes.
As they will be heading to Region 5, there is no doubt that Botswana, who are defending champions will live up to their reputation. The team will be led by the AUSC defending champion Ofentse Bakwadi, the sensational Thabang Setshego and Phillip Revaka while the female side will also feature strong athletes like Lame Hetanang and Merylin Manthe.
The internationally recognised team captain Bakwadi is still in a jovial mood after winning gold at UFAK competitions, he is expected to use the tournament to better his skills and strength ahead of the Commonwealth championships scheduled for later this year. “I am not in any pressure, I strive for self- improvement, there is some kid in South Africa, he was defending African Champion in Cameroon, but I showed him my true colours in the finals and I snatched the title.
I also left him in stitches last year during the Zone 6 tournament, I expect uproar from him, he is good but I will not be really competing but aiming for good results,” Bakwadi said when reached for comment. Quizzed about the team’s readiness, the association spokesperson Isaiah Ramontshonyane said they went all out to assemble a strong team ahead of the competition based on their current performances.
He strongly dismissed claims of bias and favouritism when selecting the team. “Every karateka is important to BOKA and all are equal before our eyes but it is impossible to take the whole team, we will always be faced with the bitter truth that some have to remain behind depending on the budget,” he said. Moreover, the list shows an equal number of female and male athletes while majority of the team are U17 and below categories.
Ramontshonyane said they deliberately focused on women and the developing side of the team so as to empower them and offer them the same opportunities as men. BOKA president Tshepo Bathai will be heading the delegation to Maputo that also comprises four team managers being Sam Dire, Pule Kwelagobe, Lere Basupang and Mothusi Tsime.
There is also senior team head Coach Otto Tafa and his assistant Peter Molefe. Christopher Ponatshego and Keone Kgorothe will be in charge of the under 21 whereas Goitseone Mongologa and Otsile Motsamai will be coaching the junior team. Mpho Bakwadi, Union Kgafela, Boston Rakgampu, Mompati Kwati, Nshingi Mosalagae, Kgosietsile Dibotelo will be joining the team as referees.
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.