Thursday, June 13, 2024

Mabiletsa, Kowa inducted into Botswana Sports Hall of Fame

Former local amateur boxing great France Mabiletsa and legendary football goalkeeper and coach, Matshidiso Sexton Kowa, were among the Botswana Sports Hall of Fame Class of 2015 inductees. The two former athletes, who have donned the national colours with distinction, were inducted this past Thursday night at an Induction Ceremony held at the Botswana Cricket Association (BCA) Oval.

While there was absolutely no doubt about the authenticity of the Class of 2015 inductees, it was the inclusion of the two former national team athletes that would inspire upcoming athletes that their service to the country will never go unnoticed. Mabiletsa, who is the youngest of all Botswana Hall of Fame inductees, was a national team icon and is the first Motswana athlete to win the country’s medals at both the All Africa Games as well as the Commonwealth Games. Having been the national boxing champion from 1981 to 1994, Mabiletsa did the country proud in 1991 when he won bronze for Botswana at the All Africa Games in Cairo, Egypt. He followed up this achievement with another impressive performance at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria, Australia, where he won a bronze medal.

The win, a first for Botswana at the games, brought to an end Botswana’s 20 year old search for a medal. After he hung the gloves, Botswana had to wait eight more years to get its next medals at the Commonwealth and even then, he was heavily involved. His prot├®g├®s, namely Lechedzani Master Luza and Gilbert Khunwane, who he had trained at Tsholofelo Boxing Club, a club he had cofounded with friends in 1985, won two of the three medals Botswana won at the games. With Mabiletsa heavily involved, the club has gone on to produce some of the country’s celebrated boxers, in the likes of Khumiso Ikgopoleng, Healer Modiradilo, Lesley Sekotswe, Oteng Oteng as well as Thuso Otukile among others. In his remarks, the former pugilist said aside from the driving motive to wear the national colours, it was his determination to be best of the best that made him achieve his feat. Once he moved into coaching, Mabiletsa said it was the likes of fellow inductee Sexton Kowa who inspired him.

 For his part, Kowa expressed pleasure at his own induction. Regarded as one of Botswana’s greatest goalkeepers, and having been part of the National team setup, ‘Bra Tshidi,’ as Kowa is affectionately known, is one of the most revered coaches and administrators. He is also known for his good eye for talent identification and development. Among the players who have come from Kowa’s development structures is Mogakolodi Tsotso Ngele as well as his older brother Godfrey, Sekhana Koko, Bakang Moeng, Thato Bolweleng, Bakang Moeng as well as Vincent Phiri among many.

Also making it into the Class of 2015 Sports Hall of Fame were Botswana Softball Association (BSA) founding President Andrew Pusetso Mokoto, former Botswana Football Association (BFA) President Ray Molomo as well as the late Special Olympics Patron Olebile Masire who was inducted posthumously. The induction of the Class of 2015 inductees brought the number of the Botswana Sports Hall of Fame to thirteen, with eight (8) inducted during the inaugural event last year. The induction has not gone unappreciated by the inductees themselves, with 2015 inductee Ray Molo describing it as a very noble idea. “Shakespeare once wrote, “The evil that men do lives after them; the good is oft interred with their bones,” you have proved this wrong by remembering the good that we did,” the former legislator aptly summed up the appreciation.


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