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.
Zebras captain Joel Mogorosi was honoured for his selfless sportsmanship, an attribute BNSC chairman Solomon Reikeletseng says the nation requires from athletes beyond the next 50 years.
Reikeletseng bestowed Mogorosi with the chairman’s award during the recent BNSC Sports Awards held at GICC. The Chairman award is given to an individual athlete who has excelled and was extraordinary in that given year.Mogorosi is one of the few senior players in the recent new Zebras and has been a source of inspiration for the ever evolving Zebras who have mustered character to overcome the stage fright which has haunted the young senior national team in recent decades when they were dubbed the ‘weeping boys of Africa’.
In the wake of the historic qualification for AFCON 2012 finals, they underwent a radical change, in which Mogorosi emerged among the few old guards that coach Peter Butler built his new team around. His inspirational leadership saw him guiding the youngsters against African opponents and causing major upsets with home wins against Mali and Burkina Faso for the Russia 2018 World Cup qualifiers and 2017 Gabon, AFCON qualifiers respectively. This historic feat was achieved in spite of Zebras players not being paid their appearance fees, but Mogorosi’s leadership inspired his youthful teammates to fight for the pride of their country.
This past week in Namibia, Mogorosi inspired the Zebras to a historic COSAFA Castle Cup Final against South Africa. In fact the local lads could have won this tournament had it not been what was described as poor officiating by the Zambian whistle man in their final against Bafana-Bafana as the South Africans were awarded a last minute controversial penalty which crowned Bafana-Bafana regional champions.“I have a lot of respect for Mogorosi,” Reikeletseng told Sun Sports this week. “He is a well-rounded athlete. He has united a team that was inexperienced.
You have seen them all the time they kept their heads high, he never incited them even when they were not paid their allowances. He has inspired a small nation like Botswana to believe in themselves,” Reikeletseng asserted. Meanwhile Mogorosi said the award will serve as an inspiration to all athletes to work hard for their nation. “I am very happy to have been honoured it will inspire everyone in sports. It shows that when you work hard people do notice,” he said. Mogorosi’s career has always centered around hard work and an illustrious success story. He played in both Africa and Europe especially in Cyprus.
In Europe, Mogorosi turned up for both AEP Paphos and APOP Kinyras Peyias between 2006 and 2008 before featuring for both domestic powerhouses Township Rollers and Mochudi Centre Chiefs between 2008 and 2012 and later joined South African premier league side Bloemfortain Celtic on a three-year contract.
He inspired Siwelele to a Telkom cup triumph after scoring the only goal against Mamelodi Sundowns in the knockout tournament finale in Durban to hand Celtic their first-ever Telkom cup and was later crowned Telkom player of the tournament. Currently Mogorosi is playing for Township Rollers and is expected to once again lead the youthful Zebras as Botswana is celebrating its 50th anniversary against an opponent yet to be named.