By Godfrey Mowaneng
Botswana Amateur Fencing Society (BAFS) says despite the financial constraints that have struck the society, they will this week send four fencers to neighbouring South Africa to compete at the Eastern Cape open championship slated for December 1st and 2nd.
Speaking to The Telegraph, BAFS President Mandla Masuku confessed that the society is financially challenged due to a limited budget and they have had to utilise alternative sources of funding for regional and international competitions.
“We have no choice but try by all means to seek assistance from private companies for the sake of athletes to compete and gain both experience and exposure. It is critical that these youngsters get to play against other African counterparts for the sake of growth,” he said.
The team is made up of high class fencers in the likes of Master Karabo Thobega, Master Aobakwe Modise, Koketso Masena and Katlego Poonyane. BAFS receives an annual grant of P150 000 despite seeking over P1 million from the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC). “Honestly fencing is an expensive sport and we only hope to get better funds in the near future as the sport continues to grow country wide,” he said.
With Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games fast approaching, Masuku said these competitions will assist in preparations of athletes gunning for a place at the globally celebrated sporting event. “We are aiming high and believe that the Eastern Cape open championship will add value in terms of preparations for the Olympic qualifiers. We are hoping to send some athletes to the Olympic Games and we believe with such challenging matches we will be ready to compete,” Masuku told The Telegraph.
He also said he appreciates the support they get from private companies as they contribute to the growth of local fencing. “We are hoping that more companies value sport and contribute towards sport,” he said.