Perseverance has finally paid off for the Botswana Amateur Fencing Federation (BAFF), as they recently received much needed assistance to enable them to roll out their programmes and popularize the new sport code in the country.
The BAFF was granted affiliation to Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC) early last year after the sport was introduced at the 2014 2nd Africa Youth Games that were held in Botswana. The Federation recently received training equipment from the International Fencing Federation (FIE), aimed at helping it to grow and develop fencing from grassroots level.
In an interview with Sunday Standard BAFF President, Gaolathe Mudongo said they were thrilled with the support and recognition they got from both FIE and BNSC as it will contribute immensely to the growth of the sport in the country.
“We will be mainly focusing on developing and drawing more interest from kids into the sport from the basics,” said Mudongo.
The Federation has only one qualified fencing master, Karabo Thobega who graduated amongst the top three best students last year from a highly ranked fencing college in Dakar after he was granted a scholarship by FIE following his impressive performance at the 2014 Africa Youth Games. Two more athletes, Sam Chape and Aobakwe Modise, were recently sent to undergo a one year coaching course in Senegal, Dakar that will certify them as qualified masters upon completion of the program.
“We sent two vibrant young athletes who also did well at the Africa Youth Games to Senegal. For the first time in the history of Botswana, we sent a female candidate to pursue this course as part of our pursuit to empower women in sports. This is a true reflection of sport growth in the country,” Mudongo stated.
Ahead of their jam-packed calendar of events, Mudongo said they are working around the clock to prepare athletes that will represent the country at international level in order for them to compete against the best in the world.
“We want our athletes to match international standards and raise our flag high in every global competition. But all will start with rating and ranking athletes in local tournaments so we can choose the best candidates to represent us,” Mudongo added.
There are more than six active clubs in Botswana thus far including Mogoditshane, Tlokweng, and Serowe. The Federation plans to grow the number to nine.
“We have already adopted three government primary schools in Serowe, since BNSC had come to our rescue. We are going to reach every part of the country, spreading the word of fencing. We have set the bar very high,” said Mudongo.
Next on their radar are the national championships that are slated for Serowe next month.