Karate referees cry foul

A karate referee (left) during a local competition
A karate referee (left) during a local competition

Karate referees are not happy with the treatment from the mother body, the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA), with allowances paid late, which has seen morale hit rock bottom.

Some of the referees have boycotted some karate competitions, forcing BOKA to rope in inexperienced, young referees who also do not have the relevant qualifications.

One of the aggrieved officials, Karabo Motsamai told Mmegi Sport that their welfare is not prioritised and they get their allowances late.

“We are owed allowances from last year. We are always complaining, but it seems our complaints are falling on deaf ears. Payments from the weekend selection were made on Tuesday. I did not officiate at the event because I was not happy about the treatment from the past tournament,” he said.


Motsamai said there was a stand-off between referees and BOKA leadership during junior team selection.

“We told them that no pay, no work. We wanted to be paid allowances from last year before we could proceed with the tournament. They promised to pay after the tournament but afterwards, the entire committee had disappeared,” he said.

Motsamai said the other challenge is they do not officiate for specified hours, but rather the number of participants determine their time.  “We are paid P300 per tournament even if it spills over to the next day. It is a flat fee and does not matter where you come from,” Motsamai said.

He said they are not provided with breakfast and they eat lunch late. Another referee, who preferred anonymity, shared the same sentiments with Motsamai. The official said the most important thing is their welfare more than allowances.

“Last year after the selection, we spent so much energy chasing after our allowances and I remember in one instance, we were informed that a list (of referees) had not been submitted,” the official said.

The referee said officiating needs concentration but due to the challenges that officials face, they are not able to deliver, as they should. The source said in some instance they doze during tournaments or end up arguing with coaches who question their decisions.

“Referees play a pivotal role in making sure that the best athletes are selected. During the senior team selection, we saw young referees officiating, that was not a good move because it is impossible for them to officiate their seniors,” the source said.

BOKA president, Tshepo Bathai dismissed the claims saying they have never paid allowances late, but a day after the competition. “Nobody is owed from last year. The procedure is that we pay them on Monday. We no longer go around with lots of cash, madi a golega batho ebile a latlhega, those from far are given cheques after the championship,” he said.

Bathai said referees are not provided with breakfast but lunch only. He said BOKA can only arrange accommodation for trips abroad and not for local tournaments. “We always provide them with lunch on time. Supper is provided at the recommendation of the referees’ commission when they anticipate that the championship would finish late. They were provided with supper in the first championship but last weekend it was not recommended by their commission,” Bathai said.

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