In what was described as a land mark in the history of karate in Botswana, the country’s local karate association (BOKA) was yesterday handed a Bank check to the tune of P688 424, by the Japanese Ambassador, Ryoichi Matsuyama.
The money is to be used for the construction of karate facilities, named Dojo, next to the squash court, near the National Stadium grounds. The money, which was offered under the Grant Aid for Cultural Grassroots Projects Scheme (GACGP), is expected to be used solely for the development of a central and permanent indoor facility where the association could be able to prepare and train their teams for participation in international activities.
Matsuyama said that Dojo refers to a training centre for karate, and is considered a very spiritual place for the players. Currently, BOKA depends on institutions like the University of Botswana, Botswana Defence Force, and Botswana Police Service for training facilities. In some instances they have to resort to Church Halls.
Gift Nkwe, President of BOKA, said, “We believe this is the beginning of a long term relationship with the Embassy of Japan, and we hope to benefit more from their international sports development initiatives in order to enhance our performance.”
Nkwe pointed out that the grant will give his association a head start in preparation for the 2012 Olympics. Additionally, he expressed optimism that Karate, being a medal winning sport in the country, now has increased chances of securing an Olympic medal for the country when the time comes.
Matsuyama made the point that the significance of his government’s gesture lay in the fact that it is the first of its kind since Japan opened its Embassy in Botswana in January last year. He stated that karate is a traditional Japanese martial art that originated in Okinawa, a village in the southern part of Japan more than 100 years ago.
“It is one of the most exciting forms of martial arts, established by the Japanese prevailing all over the world today,” enthuses Matsuyama.
So the commitment of the Japanese government is a step forward towards mutual cultural exchange, and the strengthening of the relationship shared between the two countries.
Apparently, BOKA initiated negotiations with the Embassy of Japan in September 2007, culminating in the conclusion of an agreement, this week between the parties, the signing of which was performed by Nkwe, on behalf of the former and Matsumaya for the Embassy.
Kitso Kemoeng, Chief Executive Officer at the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), said, “As far as I can recall this was the swiftest negotiation ever concluded, especially in view of the amount involved. To this end, we are happy to pledge our continued support for the association in whatever way possible.” Kemoeng added, “Against this background, take notice that a piece of land has been offered for BOKA’s use, next to the Squash court near the National Stadium.”
Nkwe assured the Ambassador and Government officials witnessing the ceremony, as well as Media, that the grant would be directed at intended use.