The Namibian national karate team is determined to end a 15-year dry medals’ spell at this year’s All African Games.
The Games, which take place in Congo, Brazzaville next month, mark 15 years since the national karate team had won a medal.
The public relations’ officer (PRO) of the Namibia Karate Union (NAKU), Nichol Sibeso, said they are definitely out to change that.
In preparation, NAKU have brought in external expert coaches from Botswana to help national coach Shihan Freddy Mwiya in a bid to improve the state of the team.
These are Botswana team coach Sensei Otto Tafa and Sensei Moses Jones.
“The president of NAKU, Cornelius D’alton requested their assistance, and we are very grateful to have them here and hope this partnership can continue,” enthused Sibeso.
Although the Namibian team performed modestly overall at the Zone VI games which took place in May, with Kumite Titus Nakambonde managing to scoop gold in the U-13s category, Sibeso said the older karatekas, particularly the U-18s, performed poorly.
“It was a disaster. We were outclassed by the other teams, but I say that I am seeing a great improvement,” he noted.
This was the first time that external coaches have come in to aid the team, but Sibeso explained that the decision made sense as Botswana is one of the best karate nations in Southern Africa.
“Southern African games such as the African Region 5 (formerly Zone VI), are always contested between Botswana and South Africa. When it’s not South Africa winning it, it is Botswana, so we knew we had to tap into that,” said Sibeso.
He further explained that some of the lessons they have already learned from the coaches is the need to focus on a few techniques, rather than a lot.
“Normally, what our athletes have done in the past in the ring is that they will try and use all the techniques which they know. And that is something which takes a lot of effort, and cannot be pulled off easily.
What our counterparts from Botswana have done is that they select two or three techniques, which they will focus on for six months.
Namibians would try this and it doesn’t work, so we move on to another technique”, he added.
Although the coaches are from Botswana and will likely come up against Namibia in a competitive match in the near future, Sibeso stressed that there was no conflict of interest as karate improving in Namibia would only help Botswana.
“They were very willing to share their knowledge with us because when we face them, they keep beating us, and they start to relax.
They want better opponents so that they are better- prepared when they face African giants like Egypt and internationally as well,” he continued.
While the nine-member karate team which will represent Namibia at the All Africa Games continues to train, Sibeso said there are challenges as they live in different towns.
Two karatekas live in Ongwediva, four in Walvis Bay, and one each in Rundu, Windhoek and Swakopmund, respectively.
“Although the N$45 000 (N$5 000 for each athlete) we received from Government has come in handy, even double that is not enough as the cost for everything we need is more.
So far, we have already spent 77% on equipment, including shin guards, mouth guards and so forth. We are appealing to the corporate world to aid us in sponsorship,” he stated.
Although coaches Jones and Tafa have already departed, D’Alton said he is hopeful of more similar partnerships.
“We hope that this partnership can last, and talks can lead to frequent competition between the two countries. We also hope to reach out to fellow nations South Africa, Zambia and Zimbabwe, and create a partnership with them as well,” D’Alton stated.