The Botswana Judo Federation (BJF) is mourning the untimely passing of its Japanese volunteer coach, Sensei Keisuke Itshubo. The 24 year old instructor, who came to Botswana courtesy of the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA), is believed to have met his untimely death while hiking at Table Mountain in Cape Town, South Africa.
According to the BJF President Estony Hattingh, though investigations are still ongoing, it is widely believed that the death is just a freak accident and no foul play is suspected. It is believed that the affable coach slipped and fell some 30 metres down to his death while trying to find his way in the treacherous Table Mountain. Sensei Itshubo’s body is said to have been found by the Search and Rescue mission on Thursday morning while they were looking for him.
Speaking in an interview, Hattingh described the loss of the Japanese instructor as a great loss to all associated with him. “Our sincere condolences go out to his family, friends, All Japan Judo Federation, Kodokan, The Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and the Japanese Embassy in Botswana,” the BJF president said. Describing the impact Sensei Itshubo has had on the Judo landscape in the country, Hattingh said her federation has seen marked improvement in the development of athletes and coaches ever since he arrived in the country as a volunteer coach in 2013. She said during Sensei Itshubo’s tenure in the country, a complete turnaround was experienced for local athletes from both a technical and emotional point of view. “With his help, we for the first time won medals in major competitions. We managed to win medals at the 2nd Africa Youth Games, the Africa Championships and just recently at the South Africa Open Championships,” Hattingh explained.
The BJF President described the late coach as a dedicated and humble professional who was not only a coach, but also a friend, a confidant and a mentor to the athletes. Apart from the athletes, Sensei Itshubo is said to have had an impact on the local coaches as they learnt a lot from him during his tenure in the country. “What we did is that we had our coaches shadowing him during his time with us. Our coaches were very hungry to learn from him and it is now fitting that at this stage, they will be taking over from where he left off,” Hattingh explained. She said every time there was a national team training camp or a trip outside the country, they would attach them to the coach as a way of improving them.
Hattingh said the late Sensei has left behind a true legacy in Botswana Judo and they will be striving to continue with his legacy and dedicated work to judo. With the World Judo Day set to be celebrated on the 28th of this month under the theme “Honour,” Hattingh said the BJF will use the day to honour Sensei Itshubo, who she described as a Hero. “He had a dream that by 2020, Botswana Judo will be represented at the Olympic Games. We will honour his dream and work hard to achieve it,” she said. Meanwhile, the BJF President said they will once again try and engage with JICA to source another volunteer coach for them starting next year.