The name of Phillip Revaka may not be well known among local Batswana, but very soon, it may be on the lips of many sport loving people of the nation.
At just 16 years of age, the youngster is one of the most decorated athletes in the local karate sports circles. Not only is he a mainstay in the Botswana national Under-17 Junior team, he is also now a member of the national karate kata team.
Born in 2000 and raised in Gaborone, Revaka came to the attention of many in 2014 as a 13-year-old who won Botswana a gold medal at the 2nd Africa Youth Games (AYG), which were hosted in Botswana.
Ever since, the dreadlocked young karateka’s star has been on the upward trajectory. Following his heroics at the AYG, he immediately followed that with another international gold medal, this time at the 2015 Zone VI championships which were held in Johannesburg.
His latest haul came earlier this month as he won bronze in both the U-17 boys’ kumite and kata competitions at the Union Federation of Africa Karate (UFAK) Cup, before teaming up with his instructor Ofentse Bakwadi and Mahommad Ali Hussain to win Botswana a gold medal in the men’s team Kata competition.
For Revaka, this success may not come as a surprise. Growing up, Revaka says he was always interested in martial arts.
It was this love that first led him to try his hand at Judo, a flirtation that lasted for only three weeks before he quit as “he was not happy with too much grabbing involved in it”.
As fate would have it, the then seven-year-old then decided to join karate because he was interested in learning to punch and kick, which influenced him to be part of the Botswana Hayashi-Ha Karate.
Two years later, Revaka’s advent into international karate started in earnest as he participated in his first international tournament in Durban.
It was at this tournament where he would experience his first sports injury, something which limited him to only play kata and not kumite. Despite this minor set-back, he soldiered on and eventually got his first international tournament medal, which happened to be silver.
From that moment on, Revaka never lost his focus and to date, he has taken part in about 15 international competitions earning him countless medals.
“Karate in not all about fighting as people perceive it, it entails discipline, respect, patience and so forth. It develops you as an individual, it builds character and also for self defence,” Revaka stated.
According to his club coach, Bakwadi, Revaka is one of the hardest working athletes in his books. He has a strong character and is dedicated and well focused.
Having coached him from the moment he joined karate at a tender age, Bakwadi has been on Revaka’s side and watched him morph into who he is today.
What makes the youngster stand out among his peers, according to Bakwadi, is that unlike others, he is versatile in both kumite and kata.
Bakwadi, however, stated that “while he is good in both the categories and can go further to become a big star, there is still a lot of room for improvement.”
“Revaka is still young and shows more promise not only for himself as an individual but for the country and BOKA as well. He is an open soul, open to learn and always takes on new challenges whenever they arise,” Bakwadi concluded.