Fencing Makes Headway

| May 6, 2015

With the sport of Fencing having been introduced in Botswana just eight years ago, it has been struggling to develop and spread around the country. However, Botswana Amateur Fencing Society (BAFS) is now aiming to take Fencing to a new level.

In an interview, BAFS president, Gaolatwe Mudongo said he and co-founder, John Vollebregt were motivated to start fencing because of their love for the sport and believed a lot could be achieved by playing it.

Mudongo said they initially struggled to assemble a committee with 10 members as per the requirement as there was only a handful of them who knew about the sport. They randomly asked their friends to join them to form an association.

However, another challenge emerged as some members lacked commitment, making it almost impossible to implement their mandate. He said they were motivated to carry through all their challenges when Botswana’s first fencer, Resego Bokete, won a medal at the Africa Junior Championships in South Africa.

Bokete, who was at the time studying in South Africa, played in the competition as an independent player. Mudongo said Bokete’s success motivated their committee so they helped her secure sponsorship.

In 2010, BAFS resolved to enhance their management, and therefore assembled new individuals for committee roles, who had interest in developing fencing.

With the committee issues resolved their greatest challenge was funding.

The challenge forced them to dig deep to help fencing grow, leading them to approach Botswana National Sport Council (BNSC) for assistance.

However, their application was not successful. Mudongo said that did not kill their resolve and against all odds they managed to field athletes during the 2nd Africa Youth Championships held in Gaborone last year.

Though they did not fare well for them it was a big achievement. Mudongo credited their participation in the youth games to their South African counterparts. He said prior to the games, financial difficulties nearly forced them to pull out, but the South Africans came to their rescue and assisted with preparations.

Now, BAFS has seven affiliates among them Mogoditshane and Tlokweng Fencing clubs. In addition, he said they have school teams Maruapula English Medium, North Side English Medium and Botlhale Schools, made of school children.

Mudongo said establishing clubs in the northern part of the country has been a slow process, but they did not ignore the need to stretch their reach to form clubs there, hence they have clubs in Serowe and Selebi-Phikwe.

He said they plan to roll out to places like Francistown and beyond. “The plan is to reach all major settlements around the country,” he said. Mudongo remains optimistic that fencing in Botswana can attain more, especially winning silverware and consequently putting the country on the map.

He said their plan is to make Botswana to be counted among the best in Africa as far as fencing is concerned. To tackle the issue of shortage of coaches, he said they have sent one athlete for a coaching course in Senegal and would be expected to help out with development of the sport in Botswana.

He expressed his gratitude towards South Africa Fencing Federation for helping them. BAFS practices all forms of fencing which use three weapons, and is divided respectively into three competitive scenes which include foil, saber and eacutepeacutee.

Mudongo said fencing material is expensive to buy, but explained that the governing body Federation Internationale Escrime (FIE) has initiated a development strategy to help African countries grow the sport.

In that regard FIE has helped BAFS with fencing equipment to sustain its entire clubs. This year, BNSC announced BAFS as its new affiliate something that Mudongo was hopeful would help them develop the sport further.

Meanwhile, BAFS is expected to take part in the world women championship in Johannesburg next month.

Source : BOPA

Source : Botswana Daily News

Category: Sports

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