BoBA aims to women boxing tournaments

Baitshepi Sekgweng

Low turnout of women boxers at tournaments and clubs has perturbed Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) for years. Even though it has always been a bitter pill to swallow for the association, it has since emerged that women’s boxing is an area that needs growth and development.

In recognition of this, BoBA has seen it fit to introduce women boxing tournaments in order to promote and empower women in boxing. This decision was taken last week at BoBA’s ordinary general meeting that was held in Gaborone.

According to BoBA’s public relations officer Taolo Tlouetsile, the drive to find a way to assist women to participate in boxing as athletes, coaches and referees is the one that influenced the move to introduce women’s tournaments.

“Women need to be appreciated and supported to participate in a contact sport like boxing,” Tlouetsile said. “The Amateur Boxing International (AIBA) also saw it fit to push programmes that empower women to fully participate in boxing. Mind you, Botswana also hosts the International Working Group congress this year, so such initiatives are a plus to us.

“Female boxers will have more local competitions before engaging in international matches. They will also improve skills and techniques through these tournaments. It will also help coaches to learn and understand the girl child better.”

According to the revised BoBA calendar of events, two ladies tournaments will be played in a year, with the first one slated for April and the last one in August. However, Tlouetsile has since brushed aside the frequency of the tournaments.

“Right now I cannot say much about the regularity of the tournaments,” he said. “Mind you, we are still trying to have more women bouts at interclub tournaments. Clubs are trying but other factors pose a serious challenge.”

Even though the introduction of women tournaments has been hailed as a good move by BoBA, the initiative comes at a time when the association is battling with attracting female pugilists to tournaments. Since August last year, BoBA has been registering three female bouts at their interclub competitions.

However, Tlouetsile has since refuted that. “The turnout of female boxers is not low but bouts are reduced due to challenges like fewer boxers at different weight categories,” she said. “Clubs do have a number of female boxers but sometimes they cannot fight because they are of different weights.”

Quizzed on whether they will get rid of women’s bouts during interclub tournaments since women tournaments are on the cards, Tlouetsile said: “The technical team will advise further on whether we are going  to see women bouts at interclub contests. In my view, boxers will be selected from interclub to participate at the women championships.

“So the technical team will find the modality of how the tournament will be like. What we expect is for clubs to recruit and train more women boxers because they (clubs) are the backbone of the association.

Global Sport spoke with International Working Group (IWG) on Women and Sports secretary general Game Mothibi who said the move by BoBA to introduce the ladies tournament is a sign of growth towards achieving what the IWG declaration emphasizes.

“For us it’s a welcome development and applaudable move,” Mothibi said. “We are happy that boxing signed the IWG Declaration and are now implementing principles contained in the declaration. We are glad to work with them to see them grow women and boxing even at leadership level. So the upcoming conference presents an opportunity for boxing and all IWG signatories and national sports associations to learn, network and introduce more programmes to grow women sports in the country.”