Almost seven years since its entrance into local sport, the Botswana Amateur Fencing Association (BAFS) is now moving closer to full recognition within the local sporting arena.
The sport, which was first registered with Botswana’s Registrar of Societies back in 2004 has now been welcomed by the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) into its ever increasing affiliates’ fold, meaning the sport can now push towards representing the country at future Olympic games.
Speaking in an interview, BAFS Public Relations Officer, Gaolatlhe Mudongo, said the acceptance into BNOC membership will help the sport of fencing as it seeks to spread the sport of fencing throughout the country as well as to represent Botswana at the international level. Despite its acceptance into the BNOC fold, the association says it is still pushing hard for membership of the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC).
According to Mudongo, they have applied to the BNSC for affiliation and were given the requirements needed for such to be accomplished.
“We are working on those requirements and we can safely say we are very close to fulfilling them. We are currently trying to spread the sport across the country and form new clubs to ensure growth of the sport as per requirements of the BNSC,” Mudongo added.
The BAFS spokesperson says at the moment, they have clubs in Gaborone and Kanye as well as in Francistown and Orapa.
He added that the intention is to now form another new club in Maun so as to make sure the sport goes country wide.
Fencing as a sport came to Batswana’s attention in December last year when local fencer, Resego Bokete, won a medal at the Africa Junior Championships.
According to Mudongo, the sport is currently attracting a lot of attention from Batswana, some of whom had played the sport whilst outside the country but could not continue with it while home because they were not aware that it existed.
On how the sport managed to survive and grow without the help of Botswana sports’ governing bodies, the BNSC and BNOC, Mudongo said their affiliation to Africa Fencing Confederations as well as the International Fencing Federation (FIE) eased their growth.
“African Fencing Confederation has in particular been very helpful including providing us with equipment to use in training,” Mudongo said. He says they are now currently trying to build a team to represent the country in future games, adding that the team will be built around Bokete.
Meanwhile, BNOC Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Tuelo Serufho says BAFS’s acceptance means BNOC now has 27 members, twenty of which are full members while seven are associate members.
“BAFS was accepted as our 20th full member during our Extra ÔÇô Ordinary General Meeting on the 28th of July as they have met all our requirements,” Serufho said.
He says as a member, BAFS will now be eligible to send athletes to competitions, including the Olympics, provided they meet the qualification standards as set by the BNOC.
“We will now have to sit down and review our qualification policies to accommodate them. As with all of our affiliates, the qualification standards will be made to ensure we send competitors to the games, not just to add numbers,” Serufho said.