Local fencer Thato Mpoloka is in Budapest, Hungary to pursue a three month Level 1 coaching course. The 23 year old Tlokweng fencing starlet left the country last week Thursday after her application was approved by the International Fencing Federation (FIE).
Mpoloka is the only candidate chosen out of many applicants from Africa to represent the continent in a course that comprises fencers around the Globe.
The course targets excelling athletes worldwide to equip them with necessary coaching skills in the saber weapon, which is the most commonly used weapon in the sport.
Mpoloka, who could not hide her delight after making the cut, described the chance to train with the best in the sport, ‘as a lifetime opportunity for her to better her fencing skills and standards.’
“Many people applied for this chance but I am happy to have made it and I am going to do my best to put my country on the map, and learn as much as I can so that I pass it to my fellow team mates back home. The sport is still relatively new here in Botswana, so for me to be a qualified coach will help in developing the sport in the country,” she said.
Mpoloka’s admission to the course has been welcomed by the Botswana Amateur Fencing Federation (BAFF). Secretary General, Thato Gleeson, said since the sport is new in the country, it is vital that they have their own local coaches who will help in developing the sport in all four corners of the country in order to produce best fencers who will represent the country at international level.
“Since gaining Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) affiliation back in 2011, we have been working around the clock to attract more people into the sport, especially at grassroots level. For us to succeed we need more qualified coaches and experts who will turn these youngsters into future stars because there is potential in our country,” he added.
Botswana was represented by a total of six athletes at the 2nd Africa youth games held in Gaborone two years ago, a true reflection of sport growth in Botswana.
Mpoloka will be the fourth local fencer to go abroad following Master Karabo Thobega who recently completed a 10 months Fencing Coaching course in Dakar, Senegal in October 2015 were he was amongst the top three best students in his class.
Sam Chape and Aobakwe Modise are currently in Senegal pursuing a Fencing Coaching Course that will certify them as qualified coaches upon completion.