The newly elected Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) president Tshepo Bathai has vowed to turn the association around during his second tenure. Bathai, who was voted into office a fortnight ago, is not new to the karate world as he served in the same position in 2014. His leadership style was however questioned and was ultimately abruptly removed from the committee. Bathai’s return has now raised questions about whether there is anything new that he will offer. Bathai has, however, insisted that he is coming to turn things around at BOKA. He is eager to leave a self-sustaining entity at the end of his term. Bathai, who revealed that he was approached by some affiliates to come back to office after he was banished, said all that happened in 2014 was just a misunderstanding. He said since he was quick at implementing of the projects some people felt that he was doing things on his own. “Most of the time people just say things and never implement them but I was quick at implementing the projects and so some people felt otherwise,” he said. Bathai said implementation of projects was vital to the growth of the association and vowed to push the projects that were abruptly cut short in 2014. He, however, said this time around things will be done differently to keep everyone informed of the process. He said he has set up a consultative framework that will be used to inform people about the proceedings at the association at all times. He acknowledged that people need to be kept in the loop at all times. “The main problem in the past was that people lacked information and accused others baselessly; so it is important to keep them informed to avoid infightings,” said Bathai, who believes that all this will stop squabbles among the affiliates.
As he takes up office his intention is to see all the projects that he has started in 2014 take off. Top of his agenda is the national headquarters building which he said must be finished this year. Bathai said they will be setting up the National Headquarters Building Fund to raise the money to finish the building, which will help them cut on the money they spend mostly on venues. Second on his to do list is the Project 1000 which he said is aimed at having 1000 clubs in schools by 2020. Bathai said this will help increase their reach to be able to unearth quality talent throughout the country. Bathai also revealed that a proper coaching and refereeing framework is needed to have quality officials. He said for players to grow, the officials should also be well equipped. The National Coaches Certification Framework, Chief Instructors Development Programme and the Referees Accreditation Framework are the projects that – according to Bathai – need attention. He said every player in any location in Botswana has to be instructed by qualified personnel. Since karate has just been listed as one of the Olympic sport codes, BOKA president believes that a lot needs to be done to have a team well prepared to qualify. As a result he revealed that there is need for a High Performance Development Programme (HPDP) and the High Performance Elite Training (HPET) to prepare players for international events. He said the participants of the HPDP will attend a bi-monthly training session with a focus on sport science, metrics and measured skill development under specialised coaching staff. “This programme will be serving as the pool selection for High Performance Elite Training. Our aim is to have elite athletes who are ready to participate at any world karate event,” said Bathai. Since his aim is to leave BOKA as a self-sustaining entity, Bathai said they will also be setting up the Botswana Karate Foundation which will be the official fundraising arm for BOKA. He said it is important that the association gets some money no matter how little it is. He is also of a view that BOKA must come up with its own income generating initiatives. Bathai believes all these will be able move the association towards a self-sustaining entity if they are implemented well.
He intends to launch Karate Premier League that will provide amble competition for elite players and also start the Botswana international Open Karate Championships that will provide the much needed international exposure. “All these competitions are a platform to enhance athletes’ performance,” he said. For a long time BOKA has not had annual awards to appreciate best performing players but Bathai intends to change all that by running yearly awards. He said the awards give players the motivation to work even harder hence improving competition.
Pleads for unity
Bathai has pleaded with all the stakeholders to put aside their differences and work together. He said working in oneness is the only thing that can help take the association forward. “Let us put aside our differences and work together to implement the set projects. All these projects have the welfare of all of us at heart; so let us push them to finish them,” said Bathai. He urged affiliates to seek information before they can go around accusing others because it does not only halt progress but also damage the image of the association that they have been working so hard to uphold.