By Anita Rannoba
Local boxers will be seeking to make an indelible impression when the country debuts at the annual Bocskai Istvan Memorial International Tournament next week.
The tournament, which will be celebrating its 63rd year of existence will be held in Debrecen, Hungary from the 5th ÔÇô 10th of this month.
After years of not getting an invite to what is one of Hungary’s most popular tournament, Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) finally got an invite and have not let it pass by.
The country is said to have scored its invite courtesy of Tibor Kincses who is responsible for boxing tournaments in Europe and Asia.
Even though it took a long time for BoBA to gain recognition in the European and Asian continent, the invite is seen as evidence that sports in Botswana is gradually growing.
While Botswana will be sending only two athletes, Rajab Mahommed and Aratwa Kasemang, head coach Lechedzani Luza is optimistic his charges will fly high the country’s flag.
“It is hard to commit since it’s the beginning of the year, but we want to leave a mark as BW. The fact that its European countries it will surely benefit us,” said Luza.
Both the two athletes are regarded as the country’s best young boxing talent, having first made their biggest international appearances at the Gaborone 2014 Africa Youth Games.
The two have since grown in leaps and bounds, and have gone on to win medals at senior national team level. Rajab won Silver and Aratwa Bronze at the 2017 Africa Championships in Chongo, Brazzaville.
On how only two were sent, the coach revealed that the two’s trip was easy to undertake as they are under the Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) Zebras Fund Programme.
Concerning the invite, Luza expressed no surprise at the country’s invitation to the Bocskai Istvan Memorial International Tournament 2019.
He said with BoBA being on the list of AIBA affiliates, it was quite possible to receive the invite. Luza further mentioned that it is not the first time Botswana partakes in tournaments of such nature as they were invited to a similar completion in Serbia back in 2012.
Meanwhile, boxing Sports Development Officer (SDO) Healer Modiradilo says there will be no pressure on the athletes to bring medals home.
Modiradilo said considering that it is the first of its kind tournament for the two, ‘it does not matter much whether they bring a medal home or not as what matters is exposure and experience for future tournaments.’
“They should concentrate on doing their level best and gaining experience for future Olympic qualifiers,” he said.
The boxing SDO however said the athletes’ level of preparation will determine whether they will manage to bag a medal or just take part to gain experience.
Still with boxing, BoBA spokesperson Taolo Tlouetsile says while only two athletes are taking part in the tournament, other athletes have benefited as they were given the opportunity to train and prepare with them.
Tlouestile says boxers like George Molwantwa of BMC, Tefo Maitewa of Thebephatshwa, Treasure Moremi of DTCB and Lethabo Modukanele were called to the training camp as sparring partners.