Friday, September 22, 2023

Karate quartet kicked in the face

Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) has left itself open to some jabs after failing to send athletes to the ongoing Junior World Champions.

In what seems a case of confusion at the helm of BOKA, athletes were left searching for answers after the association dropped them from the trip at the last minute.

Initially, four Karatekas, two men and two ladies had been picked and prepared for the Cadet and Junior Karate World Championships fest, but all except one failed to make the trip ‘due to lack of funds.’

Of the quartet of Thabang Setshego, Tlotlang Ponatshego, Wathuto Maake and Gaone Mothoyomotona, only Setshego is said to have made the cut, with the previously non-included Mohummed Ali Hussain somehow making the trip at the last minute.

While BOKA is blaming lack of funds for the failure, it has since emerged that the association may have failed to properly communicate their financial requests with the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC), resulting in a mix-up that left athletes with no funding. 

Reached for an explanation, BOKA president Tshepo Bathai said they could not send some of the Karatekas to the championships as they were not available or for others, over age.

Bathai said athletes born between January 2001 and June 2002  who qualify  are writing their exam hence they could not go adding that athletes eligible to partake in the championship where those born in between those years. 

As for other athletes like Mothoyomotona and Maake, Bathai said they are older hence they will have to qualify for 2020 as there are no funds.

Despite Bathai’s assertions, information reaching Sunday Standard suggests the BOKA hierarchy applied for funding for four athletes, a suggestion that it was for the initial quartet they had chosen.

However, they seem to have somehow submitted wrong information to the BNOC which suggested they were applying for athletes to qualify for the Youth Olympic Games (OYG) which are due for Buenos Aries, Argentina next year.

Upon realising their folly, BOKA then hastened and roped in Mohummed Ali Hussain into the team.

This version was confirmed by BNOC Communications Manager Lame Ramokate who confirmed that BOKA submitted a request which included information that the competition was a Youth Olympic Game (YOG) 2018.

She said as such, when the BNOC requested funds from the Olympic Solidarity, they requested it for players who will be aged 17 or below by the time of the YOG 2018.

Once funds for four athletes were availed, Ramokate said BOKA only submitted the name of ‘Mohammed’ and informed the BNOC that the other athlete that are age eligible were not able to go due to school examinations.  

Ramokate concluded by saying funding secured from the OS would have supported four athletes who are age eligible to take part in the champions.

The sudden collapse of the trip is said to have adversely affected the morale of the athletes.

According to Ponatshego, when the team left for Namibia to get their visas, they were not aware that there were no funds for athletes older than 17 years. 
For Ponatshego, who had been eyeing these championships as the highlight of his Karate career, the turn of events is hard to deal with as he will never get the chance to compete in the event because he will soon outgrow the Under 21 categories.

“The past two years I missed them due to exams and I had to be excluded from the group and this year they said it was lack of funds hence we did not go,” Ponatshego said. 

Gaone Mothoyomotona noted that they leaned of the news that the trip has been cancelled due to lack of proper compliance with BOKA to Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC). Apparently BOKA only applied for U17 funds and left out U21, which resulted in BOKA selecting Mohummed Ali Hussain to be part of the two who managed to get sponsorship.



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