The Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) is struggling to keep its women. The association has recently raised alarm over the rate at which it loses its female athletes especially after they reach the ages of maturity between 17 and 18 years.
The recent BOKA senior championship selection held at the University of Botswana (UB) was a case in point as only two female athletes showed up in all the five categories. “This is a challenge we are facing at BOKA, when we host a junior championship tournament, the turnout by female athletes is usually good.
However, this is different when we host a senior tournament as only a few women show up,” said BOKA spokesperson Jerry Ditlhong in an interview.
Moreover, Ditlhong said this is not a new pattern within the Karate body as it has been going on for a while. “This may be because the junior female athletes develop other interests as well as distractions at they mature.” In an effort to remedy this situation Ditlhong said they have resolved to rope in experienced female Karatekas into the BOKA committee as they could better handle the girls when they are younger.
Recently BOKA has signed the Brighton plus Helsinki 2014 Declaration on Women and sport during the senior championship. Ditlhong expressed hope that the declaration will help them to keep women in the full contact sport. For his part former BOKA president Sensei Million Masumbika said the women’s turnout during the selection tournament was disappointing.
Masumbika said the lack of competition among women during the tournament did not show seriousness and Botswana would not be ready for international championships like Zone V. Meanwhile, Ditlhong said the level of competition from the senior men was impressive. There were scores of upsets during the tournament as newcomers in the national team managed to beat more experienced athletes.
“We were amazed as new faces won in most of the categories.” Some of the impressive athletes during the tournament included Rafael Reid (under 60kg) Lemogang Keolopile (under 67kg) and Oratile Caiphus (under 75kg). The second leg of the selection tournament is scheduled for Francistown in March.