The head coach of the Botswana National Boxing team that is representing the country in the ongoing 4th Africa Open Boxing Cup, Thebe Setlalekgosi, is optimistic his charges can cause upsets during the tournament.
The ongoing week long tournament, which is hosted by Botswana, started at the Ditshupo Hall in Gaborone yesterday.
Speaking at a press conference to unveil the team that will be representing the country, Setlalekgosi admitted that while the odds were stuck against his young and largely inexperienced developmental side, the youngsters had the chance to surprise and cause upsets. He says with boxing being an individual sport, where its one boxer versus another, there was a likelihood that his youngsters may prevail even against their most experienced rivals.
“When you are young, you like to take risks because you have nothing to lose. When these young boxers take to the ring, they are likely to take risks and win,” Setlalekgosi said during the team’s presentation. “All of these team members are not ranked in the continent and they are relatively unknown. This is their chance and opportunity to learn and earn recognition.”
Despite his optimism that his charges can cause upsets, the Head Coach says there is no pressure on the team to win medals, adding that he will be happy even if the athletes reach the tournament’s semifinals. He says with the team being a developmental team, not much should be asked from the athletes, adding that maybe in the next year or two should there be expectations.
On how he views the chances of local boxers against their perennial rivals from North Africa, Setlalekgosi said while the boxers from North Africa, more especially from the Arab countries of Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia,”are a little superior to the local boxers”, the difference is not that big and local boxers have a chance.
Taking a developmental team into the Africa Open Boxing Cup, Setlalekgosi has his job cut more so with some teams like Algeria bringing at least four boxers who have already qualified for the Olympics into the tournament. Commenting on team preparations, Setlalekgosi praised his charges for being very disciplined, saying this was on display during the four weeks he has been at the helm.
He said his charges, eight men and two women, have been responding well to training and are physically and mentally ready for the tournament. Botswana men’s team consists of Mooketsi Lekgetho (49 kg), Marshall Mokgwaela (52 kg), Tirafalo Seoko (56 kg), Kagiso Tebogo (60 kg), Kooagile Rantutu (69 kg), Oratile Segokgo (64 kg), Zibani Chikanda (75 kg) and Tsenang Mohuhutso in the 81 kg category while 18-year-old Keneilwe Rakhudu (64 kg) and 24-year-old Pearl Morake (69 kg) make the two women in the team.
The tournament is expected to come to an end on Friday. Entry to the tournament is free to members of the public and the media.