Reports coming out of the Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) camp this week are that the once thriving sport code is currently experiencing financial doldrums. The state of BoBA financing came under scrutiny after the cancellation of the association’s flagship national championships, which was scheduled for Jwaneng mining town this month. Allegations reaching Sun Sports are that BoBA spent close to P 450 000 on 49 kg boxer Mohammed Otukile’s participation at the AIBA World Boxing Championships held in Germany recently. According to sources this misguided trip to Germany is alleged to have contributed to the bleeding of the associations’ already depleted coffers. According to sources close to the matter, the association failed to draw an accurate budget and ended up spent thousands of Pula’s in assisting Otukile to compete in Germany. However, decisions made leading up to the world championships have came back to haunt the association after Otukile did not make it past preliminary stages of the event.
This past week saw BoBA shocking the local boxing community after an abrupt cancellation the 2017 national championships just two days before the event. “We regret to announce the cancellation of the planned 2017 championships scheduled to be held in Jwaneng. The championship has been cancelled due to circumstances beyond our control,” reads an official statement from the troubled association.
The national championship and the Best of the best tournaments are the biggest events in the BoBA calendar. Cancellation of the event greatly disappointed both boxers and coaches as they worked hard all year in anticipation of the showpiece. A week before the scheduled event, some boxers who preferred to speak under the condition of anonymity were already suspecting something odd would happen. “Silence from our leadership was just too much, nothing was being said to us and we had doubt that this event will go on,” they said.
This week some of the boxers within BoBA told Sun Sports that they received reports suggesting that the association was financially constrained. Nevertheless, BoBA is said to have held negotiations with a potential sponsors from the diamond-mining town, which gave boxers a ray of hope. It is only through the championships that BoBA gets to select national team athletes. However, due to the current situation, it remains unclear how BoBA will resolve the situation.
On the other hand, some boxers were arguing that it would not be fair for the management to select athletes based on their interclub tournaments. In addition, sources within BoBA argued that the whole situation is most likely to ruin a relationship between BoBA and Debswana Mining Company. Debswana has been sponsoring the amateur combat sport awards for the past few years. The awards are normally held shortly after the national championships and served as motivation to athletes who excelled throughout the year. Apart from international bouts, it is only through national championship that boxers can receive monetary prizes from BoBA in some occasions.“Some of our athletes are unemployed, and are only in boxing for the love of it.
As we speak athletes have not been given an explanation as to why the tournament was cancelled, it is disheartening, “said one local boxing coach who preferred anonymity. For his part BoBA president Thato Patlakwe said allegations suggesting that Otukile played a part in BoBA’s current financial status are not true. “The bulk of the finance was from Otukile ‘s Olympic and Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) funds, we did assist but only to a small degree,” Patlakwe said. Patlakwe confirmed that the association does not have money saying they spent a significant amount of money sending both athletes and coaches abroad.
The BoBA president revealed that they used a significant amount of money in developing athletes, coaches and referees. Among others they sent nine boxers to All Africa Boxing Championships held in Congo Brazzaville a few months back. Moreover he said, “We sent 10 coaches and referees to Namibia and another 10 to South Africa, our mandate is to have enough qualified personnel of world class standard, we felt it was necessary to invest in them and they did us proud.” The soft-spoken president said there is no need panic just yet as there is a possibility that they can still host the national championships before the end of the year. He said they had almost sealed the deal with the people of Jwaneng however they could not agree on the last details of their agreements. “We did not want to ruin our partnership, there is a possibility of bringing a very glamorous national championship next year because we are busy engaging different stake holders for financial assistance.
Local boxers ready for regional tourney
Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) this past Tuesday officially unveiled a Local Organising Committee (LOC) that has been tasked with preparing for the upcoming Zone 4 championships that are to be held in Botswana.
The team is headed by celebrated boxing legend France Mabiletsa and is expected to host more than seven countries that are expected to descend in Botswana in the next two weeks. Officiating at the event, Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Vice Chairperson Tsoseletso Magang said that BoBA officials should refrain from interfering with the task given to the LOC. She noted that many sporting codes often give the LOC the responsibility of delivering an event only for the code members to bully themselves into the affairs of the LOC and disrupts the preparations.
Magang warned that there is little time left before the tournament, and with that, the LOC will need all the support to ensure they deliver a successful event. She noted that hosting the regional tournament gave Botswana an upper hand of fielding more athletes that will have an opportunity to qualify for the Africa Championships scheduled for later this year.
For his part, Mabiletsa noted that they have already hit the ground running and confident that the event will be a success. The competition will be hosted in Botho College and they are in talks with Ave Maria to accommodate athletes. “Life will be made much easier for athletes if they are accommodated at Ave Maria because it is closer to the competition venue,” he said.
He explained that the zone is made up of 12 countries of Lesotho, Angola, Malawi, South Africa and Zimbabwe among others. However as of this past Tuesday, only seven had confirmed participation and they expect to finalize the logistics by the end of the week.
Meanwhile, a formidable national boxing team of eight men captained by Mmusie Tswiiige (60kg) and three ladies led by Lethabo Modukanele (48kg) will represent the country at the regional tournament.
According to the Head coach Lechedzani ‘Master’ Luza, the team has been on camp for the past three weeks. In his opinion, the team is ready to compete. “Generally, they are not bad, we need to work on a few things such as power and speed on some boxers, the defence department is also not bad,” he said.
Luza noted that Botswana has always established herself as a powerhouse and there is no doubt that majority, if not all team Botswana members will win a medal during competition time. He explained that the competition was one of the many leading to Tokyo 2020 Olympics and will give local boxers an opportunity to qualify for the Olympics.
Branch does it again
Local motorcycle racing sensation Ross Branch has continued his stellar form after securing overall second position in the internationally renowned Merzouga Rally. The race came to a conclusion this past weekend and Branch has proven his mettle amongst some of the best rally motorcyclists in the world.
The podium finish is expected to take the Dakar Rally racer to even greater heights in the hugely competitive and expensive sport. It has been barely two months since the talented local rider emerged as a top class racer at the Dakar Rally where he finished 13 and walked away with the fastest rookie of the 10 000 km odyssey.
At Merzouga, things seemed a little better for the rider as the terrain offer sand and rock as opposed to the treacherous dunes in Dakar. Branch who was using a different navigation system in Morocco showed his pace after winning the fourth stage of the race last week Thursday.
Prior to his podium finish Branch said Merzouga was only his second rally and he was willing to learn from some of the top riders in the sport. The KTM 450cc rider said he was now setting his sights on other major races including the 2020 Dakar Rally that has been confirmed for Saudi Arabia.
Since returning from the Dakar, Ross has stayed busy and competed at the cross-country championship in Kwazulu Natal in South Africa, where he finished fourth. The local rider is expected to compete at the upcoming 1000 km Toyota Desert Race, an event he has won more than seven times.
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