Meet the Interns: Grace Mmolai, Boxing, Botswana

Meet the Interns

Name: Grace Mmolai

“I expect it [the WCIP] to bring attention to countries that are lagging behind in terms of female empowerment.”

Sport: Boxing

Mentor Coach: Luza Lechedzani

Country: Botswana

Games Role: Grace will serve as an assistant coach and, as such, will understudy the other coaches, especially those responsible for the female boxers representing Botswana.

Current Occupation: Boxing youth coach, Bowatlou Junior Secondary School; BISA team coach (a national team of high school students); BDF Phikwe club coach (youth group)

Athletic Background: While growing up, Grace developed a passion for boxing because of the fitness and discipline the sport required. She also played football.

Coaching: Grace chose a coaching career because she is fascinated by young talent and wishes to see it emerge throughout her country, especially in the lower schools. The Botswana Boxing Association (BoBA) initiated programmes to nurture her talent by coordinating boxing camps and tournaments for youth boxers, guided by Youth Sports Development Coordinator Healer Modiradilo. Grace aspires to have all women coaches protected by a sports code that doesn’t “degrade their potential by comparing them to men.” She hopes to motivate all young girls to achieve their potential in boxing. Among the issues she faces are negative mindsets about a woman in boxing and the resultant lack of female empowerment.

Education:

International Boxing Association (AIBA) Star 1 Coaching Certificate

Importance of the WCIP: This opportunity will provide Grace with much-needed exposure to international boxing. She will implement her learnings focusing on developing young female boxers for future Games. Grace notes that “the programme seems to be realizing the potential of women in sport and I expect it to bring attention to countries that are lagging behind in terms of female empowerment.” She needs mentorship to provide the foundation for her career; however, she says, currently she has neither a support system or a mentor. “I am always waiting to grab any opportunity to network with others … I need a committed organisation or individuals who do not see me as a woman but as a coach.”

After Gold Coast: Grace plans to enhance her coaching skills based on her experiences at the Commonwealth Games. She will share her learnings with other women coaches in order to inspire young girls. She will be provided with post-Games support by being incorporated into the Botswana Commonwealth Games Association and BoBA development plans. She will have Olympic Solidarity opportunities as they arise and will be integrated into teams for the 2018 African Youth Games and Olympic Youth Games.

Commonwealth Connections: “The Modern Commonwealth is a system that enhances collaboration and cooperation amongst different countries. It also fosters cultural change and diversity. The Commonwealth Sport Movement allows all countries to share their cultures and build good relations, regardless of social backgrounds, through sports. Being a coach at the 2018 Commonwealth Games means my potential has been realised and I can finally display my ability to motivate other women coaches and prove that men in my society are wrong in their perceptions of a woman coach.”

 

Meet the Mentors

Name: Luza Lechedzani

“… the WCIP is an opportunity to help others develop to his level or better.”

Sport: Boxing

Country: Botswana

Current Occupation: AIBA 3-star coach; sports administrator, teacher, Ministry of Basic Education; coach of women boxers at the University of Botswana; Africa representative on the CGF’s Athlete’s Advisory Commission

Athletic History: At the 2002 Commonwealth Games, Luza won the flyweight silver medal. He won gold at the 2nd Olympic Qualifying tournament in 2004, and was eliminated in the first round at the 2004 Olympic Games.

Coaching History: Luza chose a coaching career because it has always been his passion and dream to help others achieve more than he attained in sport. He retired after the 2006 Commonwealth Games and enrolled in coaching. By 2008, he was a national youth team coach. Success as a coach has come quickly and he is now a certified AIBA 3-star coach and cutman.

Education:

Bachelor of Science, University of Botswana

Importance of the WCIP: Luza was approached by the Botswana Commonwealth Games Association and feels the WCIP is an opportunity to help others develop to his level or better. He expects Grace to develop a good understanding of boxing basics, including technique and tactics, to be able to teach these basics to new boxers and take them to the highest level possible, to learn how to treat injuries, and be able to develop a basic training programme. His goal is to teach, inspire, and equip Grace with the necessary skills and instill the right mindset about coaching, especially with a view to breaking existing gender barriers. These barriers include patriarchy and dominance by male counterparts; small numbers of boxers and administrators, which affects their confidence; discrimination by society as boxing is considered a male sport; lack of training opportunities; and the demands of household duties. “Becoming a coach is all about passion and a commitment to learning the art, especially from experienced coaches.”

Commonwealth Connections: “The Commonwealth Sport Movement is unique in that there is little or no language barriers and an element of friendship and respect. The Commonwealth Games are a great experience and an opportunity to network globally. It is such an honour to represent my country as a coach, having twice attended the Games as an athlete.”