Stars demoralised, divisions within the team developing
The Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) has acknowledged the receipt of numerous complaints of favouritism in the selection of national team stars for upcoming events. Reports have indicated that parents and athletes alike have filed verbal and written complaints to the association and the Botswana National Sports Council (BNSC), they have requested the latter to intervene.
Their main bone of contention, as stated on the complaints, is that many have been dropped without being given proper reasons for the snubs. Many athletes performed well during the 2019 national team selection competitions but they have been dropped.
Numerous karate stars who have grabbed silver and gold medals have been dropped without being given detailed reasons, and according to some this has been a familiar pattern as teams have been chopped and changed frequently.
One of the dropped stars, who requested anonymity, stated that at times the teams were changed a few days before a tournament, this did not give them enough time to gel and get to form an understanding as a result they failed to defend their gold medal as their team had been changed. The dropped athlete stated that the confusion has led to divisions within the team and that.
This publication is in possession of five letters, addressed to the BNSC, in which parents have complained about the selection criteria and stopped short of accusing national team coach Christopher Ponatshego of favouring his younger brother while overlooking others in the process.
One of the complainants stated the following, “My child makes sacrifices and makes time to ensure that he trains and works hard to do well enough to win and represent his country. His hard work paid off as he and his team kata won the 2019 senior national team kata selections. Unfortunately I have been made aware that they have been dropped and a team that did not take any part in the national team trials has been picked sitting at home.”
“We are honestly tired of this unfairness, we are tired of spending a lot of money supporting our children to do well and represent their country only for the coach to pick his brother sitting at home. We want the bias to be known by everyone and wish the Minister of Youth Empowerment, Sport and Culture development Hon. Tshekedi Khama and His Excellency Dr Masisi to know the kind of pain we live with in karate,” stated another parent in another letter which this publication is in possession of.
BOKA Vice President Technical Union Kgafela stated that they have received complaints and that they are aware of reports that have been reported by the media but he maintained that no final decisions have been made. “The teams have been selected but we are yet to officially announce that. Nothing has been finalized as reports suggest. We are waiting for the national team selectors to explain the team selection before making an official announcement,” Kgafela stated.
Kgafela added that Team Botswana is preparing for the AUSC Region 5 Games scheduled to be held in Namibia (from May 21), they are expecting to send up to 65 athletes. Reached for comment, coach Ponatshego stated that he was aware of what the telephone interview with this reporter was about and requested to be contacted two hours later. Two hours later Ponatshego’s phone rang unanswered. This publication will afford the national team coach another chance to respond to the above mentioned claims.