The selection of the national junior team enters the final lap at the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) dojo tomorrow.
Karatekas are expected to give their all as they attempt to catch the eyes of the national team selectors.
Junior team national coach, Sensei George Tshikare said there is a bunch of talented young boys and girls, some from as far as Chobe, all vying for national team slots.
“There is need for them to be brought under the same roof and be exposed to elite training. During the selection, we witnessed raw talent that needs polishing. BOKA should invest on them because in the near future they would be competing to be in the senior team,” he told Mmegi Sport. Tshikare said new faces will dominate the national squad, and they face their test when Botswana hosts the Zone VI Karate Championship in May. Botswana will host the competition. Tshikare said he wants a strong team for the Gaborone Region V Youth Games scheduled for December.
“Zone VI will be used as a preparatory tournament for the Youth Games. You cannot blind yourself as a coach and ignore experience. You need athletes with experience together with those who are still fresh in the team. The debutants would get inspiration from the experienced ones,” he said.
Tshikare said the past selection stages went according to plan and this year they need a large pool of athletes, with 60 karatekas targeted.
Meanwhile, Police club coach, Thato Malunga said preparations for the national selection well went.
“This time around I was more focussed on my athletes’ mental strength, which has been a challenge. We did some exercises to try and improve that. Technique wise they are
She said her karatekas performed well in the last selection process. But, Malunga points out, lack of equipment like body arm is proving a challenge. That however does not deter the determined Police team, as Malunga pointed out that their plan tomorrow is to win all the matches.
“We are going there to get position one and qualify for the national team. Some of the karatekas that I expect to shine are Gustavo Kgalemang, Ronald Jakoba, Kgomotso Chakabunya and Keletso Thophego,” she said.
Mogakolodi Motlhabi of Selebi-Phikwe based Eagle Claw, said while going into the competition as underdogs, what is important is for his athletes to remain focussed. “We do not have any big names in the club. I have worked with these karatekas from scratch and the highest grade here is orange. Tomorrow they come face to face with opponents who have been in the game for some time,” he said.
Motlhabi said the morale is high as they have nothing to lose. He said it would be exciting to see some of his students getting national team call ups. Some of Eagle Claw members who are expected to cause upsets are Oteng Nkokonyane, Dennis Mojuta, Katego Moesi, Larona Phaladi, Thabo Molodi and Lebogang Maboka.
Meanwhile, the last selection for the senior team follows next weekend. No upsets are expected at the selection process as the outcome is already decided since the athletes have accumulated points from the past two stages.