The coach of the Botswana Karate national team, Sensei Mpho Bakwadi, expects his team to put a strong showing at the oncoming 13th African Karate Senior Championships to be held at Bellville, Cape Town, despite not having had enough time to train together as a team.
Speaking in an interview with Standard Sport, Bakwadi says he will be taking a very strong 12 member team to the eight-day long championships, which are to be held from the 1st to the 8th of August.
The team is expected to start its training camp at Village Gym Active during the President’s Day holidays.
This will be the first time the team will be together since their successful return from the Zone 6 championships in Zimbabwe.
Sensei Bakwadi says lack of facilities has hampered their training arrangements as they could not get a place to start their preparations.
The team goes into camp missing Ofentse Bakwadi, who is currently taking part in the World University Championships held in Montenegro.
He is, however, expected to join his teammates for training when he arrives from the championships.
The optimistic Sensei Bakwadi told Standard Sport that while they are aware of the challenges faced by his charges, more especially by opponents from Africa’s karate powerhouses in Senegal, Egypt and South Africa, they will be aiming to win the championships should their opponents take them lightly.
Bakwadi’s optimism is not misguided, with his team having won the Zone 6 championships, beating their more fancied opponents and neighbours South Africa in the process.
The Botswana ladies team comprises of Malebogo Robert, Thato Malunga, Goitseone Mongologa and Bathani Ikhutseng. Apart from the individual kumite, the ladies will take part in team kumite while Malunga will also be doing individual kata.
In the men’s category, Botswana will be pinning its glory hopes on Ofentse Bakwadi, Kaene Kago, Oratile Caiphus, Emmanuel Moswate, Moses Jones, China Metswi, Tebogo Molapong and Kevin Groth.
As with their female counterparts, all the men are eligible to compete in the individual kumite with the exception of Groth, who at 16 years, is considered a junior.
Groth, however, will compete in team kata alongside Ofentse Bakwadi and Molapong. The trio won a silver medal in team kata at the previous commonwealth games.
The team will be expected to be back in the country immediately after the championships.
Two weeks after the senior championships, Sensei Bakwadi will lead a young Hayashi-ha team to Cape Town for regional Hayashi-ha championships. Bakwadi says he intends to take a minimum of thirty athletes, aged between 4 and 16 years for the regionals.
The Sensei described the team as a developmental team that needs international exposure.
Meanwhile, Sensei Bakwadi has appealed to Batswana and the business community to help sponsor some athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds to go and compete at the regional championships.
He told Standard Sport that he has at least seven athletes from disadvantaged backgrounds in his team who have qualified for the Hayashi-ha regional championships who may not make the trip due to lack of funds. Five of the athletes are from the SOS Children’s Village.
He says as the championships are not a national team event, they cannot get funds from the Sports Council, hence the need for sponsorship from Batswana and the business community.
Sensei Bakwadi says he has tried some business people but has not got any concrete offers yet.