This past week, the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) leadership announced there will be no 2018 Karate Club Championships this year.“Please note that that we have been advised not to have any events that clash with Region 5 Youth Games scheduled for next month, as such, BOKA Executive has taken a decision not to hold this year’s club championships,” the association spokesperson, Isaiah Ramontshonyane has announced.
When the seemingly devastated BOKA affiliates questioned how the decision came about, Ramontshonyane explained that they had no other option but to obey the instruction from Botswana National Sport Commission (BNSC) and cancel the club championships that were scheduled for the 8th December. He said that the instruction from BNSC was not only for BOKA to obey but all affiliates.“BNSC has blocked activities from the 3rd to the 16th December. We have thought about alternative dates however the 16th is far into the festive season and the 1st of December clashes with Commonwealth champs,” BOKA president Tshepo Bathai had added.
When reached this week, BNSC Sports Development Director-Technical Bobby Gaseitsiwe said they were not twisting any arm or suggesting that activities be cancelled by codes that are not directly affected, however affiliates should not disturb the youth games or come to BNSC asking for transportation services and the use of reserved facilities. What now remains questionable is why the BOKA executive was quick to cancel or was it the issue of their much-publicized empty coffers and they then found an excuse in BNSC? Clearly BNSC does not transport clubs to compete at club championships meaning there was no how BOKA could need BNSC transport services. Perhaps the venue could be the issue, given that the BOKA dojo is currently under construction however that too has nothing to do with BNSC or the Region 5 games.
Other codes such as Botswana Football Association (BFA) will still have the premier league running during the youth games and according to BFA Chief Executive Officer Mfolo Mfolo, BNSC has not advised them to pause their activities. He however, said they know that they cannot use the national stadium as it will be occupied during the youth games.
“The premier league is at club level, their games will continue because they are not a national team, this is a national event hence we advised that codes do not host activities that will be parallel to the games and divert the attention,” Gaseitsiwe explained.
It has been difficult for BOKA lately. This week, 22 athletes travelled to South Africa for the 2018 Commonwealth Karate Championships and all those 22 athletes had to pop out P7 500 from their own pockets to compete in South Africa.
Fortunate were those that managed to land small donations from local companies and schools. Even the former president of Botswana, Ian Khama rescued another stranded BOKA female athlete. Those who could not afford to raise the money were probably left behind since the association had long announced that it cannot afford the P 100 000 budget that came with participating in South Africa.
BOKA is also busy trying to plead with BNSC that they be allowed to host the 2019 UFAK Championships. BNSC has set its foot down and informed the association that it did not follow the hosting policy and ordered that all preparations be stopped immediately. With that, it will take a miracle for BOKA to host the championships next year.