Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) continues to make its footprint known across the African continent. The association stamped its print further in Africa at the just ended Union Federation of African Karate (UFAK) Championships held in Cameroon. A team of nine players represented the Botswana at the championships and brought home a total of seven medals two being gold; three silver, and three bronze. The team also made history at the games by snatching the Team Kata title to get a gold medal for Botswana. Speaking at the welcoming ceremony for the team, BOKA president sensei Tshepo Bathai said winning this title was a greatest achievement by the team. Bathai said the team has done the country proud by working very hard to win such the title looking at the fact that competition was very tough. “The team has done very well as it has surpassed its target of four medals and brought back seven medals. This is a great achievement by this team and we are happy with the performance,” he said. This title, it was revealed, has been eluding the local team for years and finally they got it. Team coach Sensei Otto Tafa said the last time Botswana came close to this title was in 2008 where the team scooped a silver medal. “Now since we have this title we will be looking for the Team Kumite,’ said Tafa. In team Kumite Botswana finished fourth following the injury of one of the team members, forcing the team to compete with only four players. Tafa said still this is a great achievement since the team was one competitor short.
The performance of Botswana team is not the only thing visible to the Africans as top karate officials have once again rested their confidence in BOKA’s former president Sensei Million Masumbika. Masumbika was re-elected to the position of Vice President of the Union Federation of African Karate. He was given the position on a silver platter after he stood unopposed. The former BOKA president said this was a sign that other African Karate officials are happy with the work he has been doing. Furthermore while in Cameroon, Sensei Mpho Bakwadi attended the referees’ course which he passed in flying colours. According to Bathai, who accompanied the team to Cameroon, Bakwadi - a top referee in Botswana – officiated in the finals at the Championships in Cameroon. Bathai said it is pleasing to see a growing number of officials from the country officiating at African level. He said it shows growth of the game of karate locally. Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) Chief Executive Officer Falcon Sedimo applauded the team for the good work that it showed in Cameroon. Sedimo urged those who did not win any medal to keep working hard as it takes time to start winning. He believes that the association can still do better to deliver good results. Sedimo therefore urged the association leadership to start pushing for more women to take up karate not only as athletes but also in the executive committee.
For further growth Sedimo also advised BOKA leadership to work on continuous player development. The BNSC boss said he is concerned at the frequent change of technical officers by sporting codes. To him, this affects player development continuity which could be useful to having strong players in the future. “I advise that we come up with strategies that ensure that the technical officers are kept for a certain suitable time to see the players through their development and avoid confusion brought in but different technical officers,” he said. He also challenged BOKA officials to make their financial request to BNSC on time so that their players could be paid their appearance fees timely after international games. “We need to pay these players in time so that their morale may be boosted at all times. If we take time to pay them even their morale goes down and it is going to affect their performance,” said Sedimo.