Botswana Kofukan Federation (BKF) team coach, Sensei Otto Tafa, says he was impressed by his team’s performance during the Kofukan World Championships held in Lisbon, Portugal, last week.
The three member team outdid themselves at the tournament, winning themselves four medals, 3 silvers and a bronze.
Speaking in an interview, Sensei Tafa said while he had aimed for gold at the championships, which also celebrated the 40th anniversary of Kofukan International, he was still impressed by how his charges performed, more so considering the BKF had sent a very small team to the tournament.
Sensei Tafa, who saw his team whittled to three members just before leaving for the world championships, says considering the tough opponents his charges faced, he is pleased to have come with three medals.
“This was a very difficult competition. There were 14 countries competing at the tournament and some had much bigger teams than we had. Considering that we had to battle it out with powerhouses like Russia, Portugal and Denmark, I think we did pretty well,” Sensei Tafa said.
As was expected, Thato Malunga, who is the nominee for this year’s Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC) awards in the Sportswoman of the year category, was the star of the Botswana team, winning herself two silver medals.
The 21-year-old notched herself a medal in the women’s individual kumite as well as another in the individual kata. Sensei Tafa says Malunga, who entered the competition as the ladies’ reigning world champion, lost a closely fought contest in kumite by a point, losing 3 ÔÇô 2 to a fighter from Russia. Botswana’s third silver medal went to Moses Jones in the individual kumite while world championships debutant, Mpho Bosenakitso, had to settle for bronze also in individual kumite after losing to a Russian karateka in the semi finals.
Commenting on the overall impression of the Botswana team, Sensei Tafa said he believes the country could have had a shot at bringing gold and even more medals had it sent a bigger team.
“I believe that if we had competed in the team kata and team kumite, we could have probably had a go at gold. Unfortunately, we had only two male karatekas instead of the required five to compete in the team categories,” Sensei Tafa said.
The Kofukan team coach says while the country is showing improvement with every tournament, the only hindrance is the inability to send a complete team to the championships.
“Some of the countries who came positioned above us are not much better than us, it is only that they managed to send bigger teams this time around and thus increased their medal tally,” Sensei Tafa observed.
Another worrying point for the sensei is lack of adequate preparations by local teams ahead of major competitions.
“This issue of lack of adequate preparations is a problem in all local sporting codes and it needs to be addressed as soon as possible if we are to be more competitive. We do acknowledge that we have resource problems, but my take is that teams should have enough time training together to develop into formidable teams,” Sensei Tafa opined.
He, however, says this should not be used as an excuse by athletes or anyone, saying if anything, athletes should show passion and commitment to win before they can demand anything.
The Botswana team, which was led by chief instructor, Sensei Million Masumbika, and BKF chairperson, Veronica Chube, arrived in the country this past Wednesday.