Karate makes history

The Namibia Karate Union (NAHU) made history as 223 of the country’s top competitors from seven of the affiliated karate styles Goju-Kai Namibia, Karate Zen, Namibia JKA Karate, Okinawan Goju-Ryu Karate Namibia, Ryushinkan Karate Namibia, Shotokan Karate Academy International, and Tenshinkan from nine regions participated in their National Championships that were held at the Dome in Swakopmund.
The Namibia Sports Commission’s (NSC) Chief Administrator, Freddy Mwiya said “It is very much fortunate that the sport of karate is indeed a sport that has shown tremendous improvement since our country became independent. Knowing karate since 1990, after Namibia’s independence, we can be very much proud as Namibians that this morning we can tell ourselves that we have reached a mark that we have set ourselves in terms of inclusiveness because when I looked when the athletes were entering this hall it is indeed a good indication that there is indeed a transformation in this sports code.”
Freddy expressed his satisfaction at the rapid rate at which karate is improving in the country and that Karate is a sport that moved from being practiced in three regions to nine regions and this is really commendable.
“Karate is one of the 23 sports codes which the government has prioritized out of the 57 total sports codes. That indeed is a remarkable achievement for NAKU in general. NAKU will continue to get its assistance from the government for the next four years in terms of resources,” Mwiya added.
A memorandum of understanding was signed between Namibia and Senegal in August 2018 where four identified sports codes which were chosen to participate in an exchange programme that will be taking place for the next eight years between Namibia and Senegal. Mwiya did not mention which sports codes, but one of these sports codes is karate. The championship was also a platform for athletes to be recognized and be chosen for national colours and take part in upcoming international championships as well as the 2019 National Youth Games which for the first time will feature karate.The tournament featured captivating performances by some of Namibia’s most talented young athletes such as Mayvonne Swart, Freddy Mwiya Jr, Westley Marshall and Michelle Tjimuku. In the senior divisions, Suzelle Pronk, Katelyn Martin, Michael Nakapandi and Jurgen van Wyk also put up world-class performances.

With karate officially recognised as an Olympic sport, many of these athletes are striving for the dream of representing the country on the greatest world stage. The Public Relations Officer of NAKU Stefan van der Merwe said that this year’s championship is a true testament to the growing popularity of the sport in Namibia, and the efforts of those contributing to the growth of karate in Namibia. This was emphasised by the Namibia Sports Commission’s chief administrator, Freddy Mwiya in his opening address, where he highlighted that “karate is one of the 23 sports codes which the government has prioritised out of 57 sports codes. That indeed is a remarkable achievement for Naku in general” Stefan added.International exposure is crucial for the development of the sport, as well as the athletes. Naku is planning on implementing various developmental strategies to help this process. However, the union is facing real challenges to get a team funded for the World Championships and creating opportunities for our athletes to gain valuable Olympic qualifying points.
The national championships not only provided a platform for athletes to demonstrate their skills, but also resulted in the selection of the national karate team.
“Next year promises to be another exciting year for the sport as Namibia prepares to host the 2019 Region 5 karate championships. Furthermore, the 2019 National Youth Games will feature karate as a sport for the first time and the Namibia Karate Union is extremely proud of how far the sport has come over the past few years, and is really positive about the future of karate in Namibia. With its ever-increasing popularity, karate is quickly becoming one of the sports to look out for in the future,” Van der Merwe added.

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