The Ministry of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture Development has committed to sponsoring the 2019 UFAK Karate Championships with a massive P 3 million, BG Sport can confirm.
Just last year, BNSC, while still under the guardianship of former chairman Solomon Reikeletseng, refused to be involved in the hosting of UFAK. Reikeletseng had at the time said that Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) had not followed proper hosting procedures.
It had to take a lot of convincing and negotiations from BOKA, including pleading with the freshly appointed Minister Tshekedi Khama that BNSC finally had a change of heart early this year. The championships will be held in Gaborone on the 9th -14th July.
To prove that indeed BNSC was now committed to assisting BOKA host a successful event, BOKA was slapped with a seven figure sponsorship letter last week.
According to information retrieved from the leaked letter addressed to BOKA, BNSC has advised BOKA to review the budget for the championships and align it to the funds allocated. However, the president of BOKA, Tshepo Bathai, when reached for comment played his cards very close to the chest and could not confirm if indeed they have received the sponsorship communication from BNSC. He admitted that the championships will be held in three months’ time and they are hoping that the Ministry through BNSC will assist them financially.
Bathai added that they do not expect only government to come to their financial rescue but hoping that even private entities will come on board. He revealed that they have a budget of over four million and the hope is that they will be able to raise the funds as the continental tournament fast approaches.
The competition he said came at the right time when Botswana is busy readying for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. Hopefully, local Karatekas will use the tournament to improve their chances of qualifying for the Olympics. Bathai noted that preparations for the upcoming event are ongoing and at an advanced stage. In fact, the World Karate Federation, Vice President who also happens to be the UFAK Vice president Bechir Cherif, is expected to be in Botswana early next week.
“Cherif will be here from the 25th to the 28th March 2019. During his visit, he will meet the Ministry of Sport, the Local Organizing Committee (LOC), the BOKA Executive Committee and also tour the competition and training venues,” Bathai said.
BOKA will be using the UB indoor Sports Arena for the competition and yet to finalize on the training venues to be used. At the end of his visit, Cherif is expected to share his thoughts on preparations made by BOKA so far.