A team of 11 karateka from the Botswana Hayashi-Ha Karate Union left for Barcelona, Spain, on Monday to compete at the 8th Hayashi-Ha World Championships.
The tournament, which will be held on Saturday and Sunday, will see the local boys go head to head with karateka from 18 other countries in search of gold.
Speaking at the team’s farewell ceremony, Botswana Hayashi-Ha Karate Union chief instructor, Shihan Mpho Bakwadi, said they intend to bring home at least three gold medals as well as some silver and bronze medals from the tournament.
While admitting that it will not be easy to clinch the expected medals, the Botswana Hayashi-Ha Karate Union chief instructor said a prior success from the same tournament shows the target is achievable.
Despite having to leave some of their talented athletes behind due to lack of funds, Shihan Bakwadi was optimistic that his team, which is captained by Ofentse Bakwadi, can hoist high Botswana’s flag at the championships.
So far, the Botswana Hayashi-Ha Karate Union managed to attract just one sponsorship of P5 000 from Furniture Touch towards the trip, with the rest of the trip costs paid for by the parents of the athletes.
He said the entire trip will cost them around P400 000, with most of the monies going towards flight tickets, accommodation and food.
For his part, team captain Ofentse Bakwadi reiterated that lack of money had forced them to leave behind some of their senior athletes.
“If you look at the current team, you will notice that some of our athletes are not with us. That is because we had no funds and every athlete had to pay for his or her own fare for the trip,” he said.
As such, the captain will have to lead a team mostly comprised of young athletes to the tournament.
Among his most talented young athletes will be the duo of Mahommad Ali Hussain and Philippe Revaka, both of whom, along with Bakwadi, won Botswana a gold medal in team kata at the Union Federation of Africa Karate (UFAK) Cup this past month.
Concerning the team preparations, Ofentse Bakwadi contended that while they had not had a training camp, they were well prepared and are ready for the tournament.
In the absence of such a training camp, Bakwadi said they intensified their training regime from the usual three days a week to training daily.
The local boys are expected back home on August 4.