NAKU gears for international competitions

Namibia will not be sending karatekas to take part in the World Karate Federation (WKF)’s World Junior, Cadet & U21 Championships due to funding issues.

National karate coach Simataa Francis Mwiya said the federation is doing all in its power to make sure that this will not be the case next year.

“Looking at the financial involvement, we were not able to put it on the activities when we set our calendar because of the cost implications and also because we did not pay the affiliation fee and affiliate ourselves with the WKF for a number of years now. But we are seeking to change that next year,” explained Mwiya.

Participation at the World Junior, Cadet and U21 Championships would likely have cost the Namibian Karate Union (NAKU) up to N$500 000 for 12 karatekas, which is not viable at this moment.

Besides the Region Five games in May in Zimbabwe and the African Karate Federation (UFAK) Championships in April in Gabon, Namibia will also be hosting the Karate Zen Open Championships in June, the Japanese Karate Association (JSKA) World Championships in July and the Goju Ryu African Championships in September.

This will be the first in Namibia that three international competitions are hosted here in a calendar year, and Mwiya hopes the attention local karate receives will also garner some sponsorships.

“Our federation currently does not have any agreement with corporate sponsors. One of our focus areas for next year is to look into how we can get perhaps a three-year contract with a company to ensure that they look at the welfare of our athletes. We are planning to transform our national team so that some of them become semi-professional so that the sport can be a way of making a living, and not just a hobby,” he added.

Coming fresh off a nomination at the recently-held Namibia Sports Awards for Coach of the Year, which went to boxing trainer Nestor Tobias, Mwiya said his focus now is on development.

“On the fourth, fifth and sixth of December, when people go on holiday, we are not going on holiday. We are going for a training camp. We would like to design it so that when the students go for the festive season, every athlete has a programme of what to do during that festive season. This is because we plan to have our trials at the start of February, and want to have the team which will participate in international and continental competitions prepared well in advance,” said Mwiya.

With positive words of karate’s inclusion in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo buzzing around, Mwiya added that local karate is looking good to participate in more international competitions, starting next year.

“We want to add other international competitions to our calendar because like other sports codes which won at the awards, we can only win there once we compete at the world championships”, he said.