Karate deserves a break. A break from shoddy leadership, from squabbles and pettiness! This is a great sport. It hurts many that have given their life to it to see it degenerating the way it has recently. This is a sport that is known mostly for engendering discipline and focus from its cadres. It is no wonder that parents quite often prefer to have their children enrolled in it from a very young age. This is not about turning children into fighters and bullies – it is for the discipline that there see value in it. Youngsters get to know the value of restraint, managing their emotions well. Its core values need to be restored and protected. What we have been seeing from the leadership has not been inspiring at all. The leadership discipline that was expected has not prevailed. Working together for the good of many, even as they differed, failed dismally. Egos won the day. At the end, the bigger sport family suffered. It does not really matter who in the executive railroaded good initiatives and sabotaged good progress of the sport. All members of the team have to be blamed.
Ultimately though, it is the most senior that should take the full responsibility. He ought to have worked even harder to see to an efficient working team. Four members of his executive resigned at some point. At that stage it was clear that Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) had been thrown a lifeline to go an elect a new leadership. When two others somersaulted and withdrew their resignations, it meant that Tshepho Bathai had a reprieve to try and restore order and stability in the ailing organisation. This week’s news that he has thrown in the towel will be welcome by some and regretted by others. To me this is the biggest break that BOKA needed. Quiet clearly the committee could not work well together. The result was that karate suffered immeasurably.
Normal calendar of the events was not implemented. The sport reportedly missed out on Zone 6, UFAK games, and the World Cup. Under the circumstances many other opportunities have been missed. Essentially, this could stand out as a wasted year – one that deserves to be blocked out. It is understandable therefore that an underperforming code would have a problem with the mother body – the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC). Why should the BNSC stand on the sides and watch when a code appears to be on auto-pilot? We don’t always hear suggestions of interference on sport codes by the BNSC. The question is why should that be coming from karate? And even more why should this ‘claimed’ interference be at the time when everything looks chaotic about the code.
Whatever positive contribution the outgoing leadership made to the sport is appreciated, now it is time they gave a chance to another crew. Bathai deserves to be acknowledged for the time he gave and for his genuine attempts at running the code. Much more important, he deserves respect for knowing when it was time to go. It helps in healing the code and even himself. It is never worthy to keep pushing when one has long realised that things are not working. This recognition makes him leave the top seat with some honour. He has sacrificed his personal enjoyment of power (if any) for the good of the code. We trust that the incoming executive will draw from the experiences of the outgoing leadership and ensure they take the sport forward. Karate has for years been an outstanding code. Their athletes branded the country very well in winning medals continentally and at world stage. This past year having failed to participate in a number of games, there has been little to celebrate about the code. We need to put this behind and open a new chapter.