'No over-25 policy' divides karate

Within range: The young karatekas selected for the national team
Within range: The young karatekas selected for the national team

The senior national team coach, Chris Ponatshego is facing criticism over his decision to exclude karatekas over age 25 in the team.

The national team selection was held over the weekend at the Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) training hall.

According to information reaching Mmegi Sport, Ponatshego has decided not to select players above 25 years, opting for fresh blood. This decision would mean the likes of Lame Hetanang, Oratile Caiphus, Mogakolodi Motlhabi and Ofentse Bakwadi are out of the team.

“The coach had selected people who did not win in categories and dismissed the winners because they were over 25 years. It is demoralising and we are wondering what is going on,” said one of the senior athletes.

Ponatshego told Mmegi Sport that he wanted athletes 25 years and below because sport has been inactive for a long time and there is no point in including older karatekas in the team. However, the executive committee overruled the decision. Botswana Karate Association (BOKA) public relations officer, Isaiah Ramontshonyana said what the coach is suggesting is impossible and against the policy.

“The intention of the coach is against the national team selection policy. What he wants to do would mean we have to change the policy that has been used for more than 10 years. It is not a simple thing to do. That is why as the executive committee, we are against that. He made that request through the vice president-technical, it was presented to us but it was rejected,” he said.

Ramontshonyana said what Ponatshego wants to do will divide karate because karatekas put in all the hard work to get the national team slot. He said it would be a shame for someone to be disqualified because of age. He said that has never happened in the sport, even in athletics, a winner is determined by performance, not age.

The national team training continues tomorrow at the BOKA dojo. Tension is expected to run high as 90% of the karate players who won had been dropped from the team. According to a source, those who were dropped would be attending the training session. The source said the karatekas are aware that they were dropped, which might cause friction with the coach.

“He has called other karatekas informing them that they have been selected into the team. Now that BOKA has overruled his decision, imagine what is going to happen. I foresee a disaster,” added the source.

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