Namibia: Warm Welcome for Jska Karate World Champs

THE various heads of international karate delegations received a warm welcome from Erongo Governor Cleopas Mutjavikua and Swakopmund constituency councillor Juuso Kambueshe on Wednesday, two days before the historic first JSKA World Karate Championships.

This Friday and Saturday, karate teams from Japan, Scotland, England, Germany, Switzerland, Angola, Botswana, South Africa, Mozambique, the Czech Republic, Kenya, Palestine and hosts Namibia will compete for world champion positions at Swakopmund's world-class Dome Indoor Sports Centre.

"Usually, one would get to your hotel, then travel to the sports grounds, go back to the hotel, and then go eat something at a restaurant. Here (at the Dome), you have all in one. This is great. You don't even have such a facility in Europe," said sensei Hans Muller of Switzerland.

Mutjavikua welcomed the senior sportsmen and women to Swakopmund, offering Namibia's friendship and inviting them to enjoy the services and activities the town and the region offers.

"Next time, you can come back and bring along all those you told about Namibia, and come and enjoy a nice holiday here," he noted.

He also thanked them for choosing Swakopmund as the venue for this tournament, which even on international karate competitions' standard is considered "huge."

"This is where the best come together and compete to be crowned as world champions in their different categories. This is not a nation against nation competition, but a personal effort to showcase their best, and be rewarded as the best in the world for it," said sensei Willem Burger, the chief instructor at the Namibia Shotokan Karate Academy. "That is why this is such an honour for Namibia to host such a great event."

The Namibia Shotokan Karate Academy has attended every edition of the championships, held every two years, since 2004, with the exception of 2008, and amassed over 100 medals.

They won 12 medals in Pretoria, South Africa during the 2004 event; 15 in Manhattan, USA in 2006; five in Portimao, Portugal in 2010; 26 in Cancun, Mexico in 2012; and an incredible 56 in Terni, Italy in 2014.

Namibia even boasts seven world champions from the Italian games, where they beat several world-class teams to obtain the second place overall on the medal standings. This achievement led the United Kingdom to nominate Namibia as hosts for this year's edition.

Kambueshe said although Namibia was a Third World country, it still intended to compete with first-world facilities. He said there is indeed an aggressive effort to market Swakopmund as the tourism destination of choice in Africa.

The developer of the Dome, which cost about N$100 million, is Horst Fritze, who said it was always a dream to host such a big event of international standard.

"We are very happy to be part of this, and to play a role in the development of a sport, and build bridges with our international friends," he beamed.

Sensei Mike McCluster of Scotland said besides the political and economic benefit of such an event, it also has sentimental value.

"Here, we all come together again. Some of us haven't seen each other for a long time, and here we also make new friends. Yes, we do compete to be the best, but we are also a close group of friends, and to come together in Swakopmund will hopefully be a memorable experience for us all", he added.

There are over a 1 000 entries for the two-day event. Participants from as young as seven years to over 50 years will take part in categories which include kumite (combat) and kata (series of karate movements), amongst others.

Source: The Namibian