Botswana Wrestling Federation (BWF)’s dreams of getting a head start in its development endeavors have been dealt a major blow with the removal of the sport from next year’s 2nd African Youth Games.
Initially on the provisional list of sports to be played, wrestling was struck off the roll after the International Federation of Associated Wrestling Styles (FILA) found that the condition for the organization of a wrestling competition is below specifications requested by FILA.
Following an inspection of venues to host wrestling during the 2nd AYG by the African Council of Associated Wrestling (CALA) Vice President, Manie van den Berg last month, FILA decided that the country does not have suitable facilities to host the sport.
The removal of the game has come as bad news to the Botswana Wrestling Federation as they were looking towards hosting the sport as an opportunity to advance the sport in the country.
Speaking in an interview, BWF President Moagi Sharp described the removal of wrestling as a ‘big setback,’ saying the BWF had looked at hosting wrestling competition during the games to give wrestling in the country a major boost.
“We were very hopeful that should we host the games, we would have benefited greatly. We would have had our own local officials, coaches and athletes trained here as part of the preparations which would have been great for our development. Now that we will not be hosting, it means we will be starting from scratch and will now have to plan and figure out how to get ourselves where we want to be,” Sharp explained.
While the removal of wrestling was a huge disappointment, the BWF President said his federation has learnt some lessons from the whole inspection as to the requirements needed to host wrestling tournaments, something which he says will be helpful in future when they host wrestling tournaments. He said for the BWF, all is not lost as they can now start remapping their way forward.
“As members of the Botswana National Olympic Committee (BNOC) and with our sport part of the Olympic sports, there are still many tournaments in which we can compete in future. From now on, we intend to work closely with the BNOC for them to organize us facilitators from FILA to come train our coaches and officials who will be used for our own development and competitions,” he explained.
According to Sharp, another major project the BWF will do is the development of its own long term athlete development plan (LTAD). He however said while the LTAD is under consideration, the BWF will start its own grassroots development which is expected to start next month.
“We will start with four primary schools in Phikwe in November and from then we will take it step by step as we want to introduce the sport in many primary schools across the country,” he said. He said while they still have no proper wrestling mats, BWF has sourced for some mats to be used while they wait to see if they can have proper mats. According to Sharp, the BWF has already applied to FILA for wrestling mats and the federation is hopeful the request will be successful.