Karate coach accused of nepotism

Tlotlanang Ponatshego
Tlotlanang Ponatshego

Tension is mounting in the karate senior men’s kata team as coach Christopher Ponatshego is accused of giving his younger brother, Tlotlang Ponatshego preferential treatment.

According to information reaching Mmegi Sport, the coach selected a kata team that included his brother. It is alleged that the team members who made the cut were not part of the last national team selection held in Gaborone in March.

The team that finished first, comprising Ofentse Bakwadi, Boemo Ramasimong and Vincent Magalie was, instead, overlooked. But Ponatshego has denied that he is giving his brother special treatment.  “There was no selection of team kata, but a demonstration during the third leg of the senior national team selection,” he said.

Despite Ponatshego maintaining that the March process was a demonstration and not a selection, the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) had sent out an invitation to clubs indicating that the event would be in the form of both individual kata and kumite.

Ponatshego said, last year, BOKA took a decision to strengthen kata team with athletes who were doing well as individuals.  “I followed the same system from last year, but it seems people are against it. I wonder why that is happening,” he said. “In 2017 when we selected Tlotlang over Quinton (Mosupiemang), people complained, but when he came back with medals, they celebrated.” Ponatshego said the team will represent Botswana at the Beach Games to be held in Morocco.

He said as a coach, he could not go against the systems, which have been in place. Ponatshego said he does not feel pressure in dealing with the issue of his brother all the time. “There is no pressure because even before I was a coach, Tlotlang worked hard and he was always in the team,” Ponatshego said. BOKA president, Tshepo Bathai contradicted Ponatshego and said the kata team selection has not been finalised.

“Despite what the coach said, BOKA is yet to make an official announcement. At the moment I cannot commit to anything,” Bathai said.

Meanwhile, the national team continued with its preparations for the Region V Games with a training camp over the Easter holidays.

Namibia hosts the Region V Games from May 21 to 25, 2019 and BOKA will send a team of 65 karatekas.

“The camp went well, but some athletes have not reached the level that I want. There is still time to work on them.  I do not expect any hiccups at the Games because they are our daily bread,” he said.  Ponatshego said the focus is on the youth and there are plans to travel to Canada for a training camp and also compete at the Karate 1-Series A in June.  The competition would serve as part of preparations for the UFAK championship, which Gaborone hosts in July.

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