Gazette Reporter

Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) Senior National Team karatekas are unhappy with the newly introduced national team selection criteria for this year’s upcoming regional and continental competitions. BOKA notified its affiliates about the new system through a letter dated 10th September 2021 from the association’s secretary general Karabo Samuel.
The new system dictates that the federations should select only one athlete per category for further vetting after the anticipated series of trainings alongside other karatekas in order to come up with one final representative in each category.

The male categories are comprise -60kg, -67kg, -75kg, -84kg and +84kg while the female categories have -50kg, -55kg, -61kg, -68kg and +68kg which will be filled by lucky athletes depending on the actual appointment process by the coaches prior to the Africa Senior Championships billed for Cairo, Egypt in December.

In an interview with Gazette Sport recently, various senior karatekas who opted to be anonymous in fear of being victimized expressed displeasure on the new system and deemed it unfair noting that this will see some good and deserving athletes from same federation being left out and denied an opportunity to prove themselves in fair and competitive setup in order to earn a slot in the national team.

“This is an unfair system, the authorities don’t put athletes interest first, it is all about them, they are pushing their own agendas in the name of volunteerism. There is no proper consultation between the executive committee and the athletes so we are just swimming in the pool of darkness, we are pulled by our ears all we get is commands and it is so frustrating to a point that one can think of quitting this sport,” said a disgruntled female karateka.

Another seasoned kumite specialist who also preferred to be anonymous told this publication that the association has not come up with better ways of holding a national team selection while observing COVID-19 protocols. “ I am of the view that there are many ways of conducting a fair national team selection just like other countries in our region. There is no use of selecting an athlete based on their previous performances because every year there is a surprise entry and besides everyone has to prove themselves before they can be thrown into a tournament to participate, those days are gone,” he alleged.

The letter further states that the decision was due to the COVID-19 pandemic that resulted in strict health protocols measures.

“ BOKA is just hiding behind COVID-19. No single style that cares about their athletes would want and agree to this kind of bias prone system of national team selection. They have not appointed coaches yet and we know that they are going to do what they always do by appointing coaches that they know they can easily control them and dictates on who they want in the team,” said another unhappy athlete.

BOKA has been struggling financially since they hosted the 2019 Africa Senior Championships (UFAK) in Gaborone which left them in series of debts that they are still yet to settle. The association is also finding it difficult to complete the construction of their training hall (dojo) due to the financial mess they found themselves in.

Reports suggest that they intend to divert most of their annual grant towards the completion of the hall in order to get back into good books of Botswana National Sports Commission (BNSC).