Botswana Judo Federation will next week take 22 athletes to Stellenbosch, South Africa to compete in the South African International Judo Championships. The tournament takes place from June 29th to July 3rd.
Among the countries that are expected to take part are Swaziland, South Africa, Mauritius and Zambia. The team’s youngest athlete is aged 10. Coached by Kingsley Segokotlo, the team will feature in different categories for the young and senior players.
Team Manager Ishmael Thaga revealed that for the first time they will also take two pairs to compete in Kata category. He said that the last time they had representatives in that category was about eight years back. He said that they have had great preparation for these championships as they aim to bring back home medals. He said the only challenge that they have is that they were not able to get three of their senior athletes, who are in Form five since they are writing the examinations.
He said the 22 players making the trip were chosen out of 121 players. “Because of this, we believe we have the strongest team. Our target medal is 15 because they are highly capable,” he said. He said apart from that they are also grooming the team for the All Africa Games while at the same time exposing the young ones so that they could represent the country well in the future as well. He said they have reduced the number of athletes that they will be taking to the competition due to financial constraints. Last year they managed to bring 17 medals, but the manager said they expect 15 medals from this current team because they believe that it is the strongest team that they have. He said with the help of the Japanese embassy they started the judo school programme in order to make sure that students from government schools are given the same opportunity to represent the country. “I am happy to say that some of the athletes that we will be going with to SA are from government schools,” he said. He added that since it has shown great results now they want to roll the programme out to the rest of the country which will run parallel with the Debswana Reba bona Ha programme. He said their aim is to also reach out of school kids because Judo can be a good tool in character building and discipline, and in these programmes they use senior athletes to teach so that they groom the young to be coaches.