The head of a four-man team of Judo instructors who were in Botswana this past week says the country has potential to produce medal winning Judokas.
Speaking in an interview after watching the young Judokas compete in the Japanese Ambassador Cup Judo competition this past Sunday, Sensei Isamu Nakamura said what he and his fellow Japanese Judo Instructors saw during their weeklong stay in Botswana far exceeded their expectations.
He said having worked with the young Judokas in his weeklong visit to Botswana, he was impressed by the level of talent and passion that the youngsters had for the sport of Judo.
“These young kids are very enthusiastic and respectful, something which is the core value of Judo. They are also very passionate about the sport, something which is very important if they are to progress,” Sensei Nakamura said.
While impressed with the skill and technique that was on display during the Ambassador’s Cup Judo Competition, Sensei Nakamura, however, said it is now up to the Botswana Judo Federation to ensure the talent they have at their disposal doesn’t fall by the wayside.
“There is a lot of interest among these young Judokas to grow in the sport and it is up to the Botswana Judo Federation to keep it up. They will have to put in place good systems to keep these kids interested in Judo for a long time. This will include having more highly qualified instructors with very high skills to keep these kids challenged and willing to go further,” Sensei Nakamura added.
The Japanese Sensei said it is up to the BJF to maintain relationships with Japan to get as much help as possible to grow the sport. Sensei Nakamura said he is willing to help Botswana when
possible, adding that he had enjoyed his visit and would be willing to come back in future.
For her part, BJF President, Ms Estony Hattingh, said the display by young Judokas gave them a glimpse of the potential Botswana has to compete in major competitions in the near future.
“Our intention is to have our athletes competing at the next Olympics in Rio in 2016, but with these young athletes we have, we are positive we can get a medal at the 2020 Olympics,” Hattingh said.
The BJF President said they have put in place a good system to ensure that the young Judokas grow in the sport. She said they have already put in a request to the Botswana National Sports Council to help them with two Cuban instructors while they are also expecting a Japanese instructor to come help them for a year, starting next year. During the Japanese Ambassador’s Cup Judo competition, spectators were treated to a competition spectacle by the country’s emerging Judokas, who are part of Judo’s Long Term Athletic Development Plan, which is dubbed Judo 2 School programme.
The programme, which is one of the first in Botswana, has now been running for three years. The Ambassador’s Cup was also used to give the local Judokas a chance to hone their skills ahead of the Africa Cadet and Junior Championships that are due in Botswana in less than two weeks.