9 June 2016

Botswana: Fathers Who Mentor Their Children's Talents

Photo: allafrica.com
Fathers, fatherhood.

Gaborone — It is not common to see fathers coaching their own children in sports, however, some have turned out to be great mentors and nurturers of their kids' talent.

As we celebrate Fathers' Day, we focus on two fathers who have played dual roles of being parents and coaches to their children. The two, Oshinka Tsiang of tennis and Dr Marape Marape of chess have made it their mission to mold their children into promising prospects.

Marape is the father to nine-year-old chess starlet, Naledi Marape who has already attained a World Chess Federation title. He also has a talented chess playing son, 11-year-old Marape Marape Junior.

"I love chess and enjoy it very much. During my time, I won competitions for senior schools for three consecutive years until 1993 with my team," Marape said in an interview.

He later quit playing chess in order to focus on his education since sports was not really valued then.

The father of two boys and two girls, Marape later introduced his young son Marape jnr to chess. Marape jnr went on to win several medals at the under-12 championship under his father's guidance. While he introduced his son to chess, Marape stated that he did not think that nine-year-old Naledi, now a woman candidate master, would be interested in playing the sport.

"I was actually surprised when Naledi asked me to teach her how to play chess. She said it with passion. She even assured me that she would be committed to it after I told her that chess demanded a lot of concentration," he said.

Marape started coaching Naledi in February 2013 and was impressed by his little girl's performance. Naledi competed at the Youth World Chess Championships a few months later. Although she did not win, the way she handled herself and her focus impressed her father.

Three years later, Naledi was to be given the women candidate master title by FIDE and is now Botswana's youngest chess prodigy and currently a nominee for Botswana Young Sports Women of the Year.

Marape said he is proud because his children look up to him as their role model. He said to overcome the challenges he encounters between being a father and a coach to his children, he makes sure that he separates fatherhood and coaching.

"I avoid discussing chess with my children at home. We go out for holidays as a family, go shopping and sometimes play golf. But when it is time to practice, I make sure that they focus and do not miss tactics," said the proud father.

He makes a schedule for his children so that they are able to balance between their school work, chess practice and leisure. He added that besides that his children have also become responsible because they have a chess academy called Young Grand Chess Academy where they get to prepare for the lessons that have made them grow mentally.

Another proud father of two young stars, Tsiang has mentored his twins Tsholofelo (boy) and Tshegofatso (girl). Tsiang was never a professional tennis player, but enjoyed watching it. He said he played tennis for fun and to relax his mind when studying journalism in Canada.

Tsiang stated that the twins were very noisy playing with their toys in the house hence he wanted an outdoor game that would keep them away from the house.

"Obviously it would not have been football or netball because they are a boy and a girl, but they needed to play together. I considered tennis because they could play against each, and have fun together," he said with a smile.

He added that every time he picked them from school, he would take them to Gaborone Technical College tennis courts where they would play tennis. He said he made them play tennis just for fun and to help them relax after a long day at school.

Tsiang disclosed that although he taught them all the tennis basics, it was not his plan to turn them into serious tennis players. He said watching them run around happily hitting the tennis ball also helped him to bond with them.

"They wanted to learn more about the game. I then introduced them to Freedom Tapera, one of the tennis professionals who then trained them. One day Tapera suggested that we should register them for tournaments and surprisingly they were amazing and won the first game that was hosted in Selebi- Phikwe," Tsiang said.

Before Tsholofelo and Tshegofatso turned 14 years, they both participated in the under-12 qualifiers for the Francistown Open Tournament, International Tennis Federation (ITF) and Confederation of African Tennis (CAT).

Tsiang said he was so overwhelmed when Tshegofatso was selected under the Botswana Tennis Association (BTA) sports scholarship at a High Performance Centre called Tucks Sports High School in Pretoria in 2014 where she is currently schooling.

He said Tsholofelo has also never stopped chasing his dream. Tsiang said he believes in his son and knows that the twins have similar capabilities.

Tsiang said last year he sponsored his son to attend one of the best tennis academies in South Africa called Centre Court Tennis Academy so that he could also be exposed to the same environment as his sister. He said Tsholofelo is now fighting to gain points for the ITF under-18 while Tshegofatso has already acquired hers.


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