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Karate a key to international exposure for rural youth

By Stella Sigcau

1 November 2019

Karate in Mbizana in the Eastern Cape has gained prominence amongst rural young people providing a key to a better life as well as an opportunity for international exposure. In November 2018, Mbizana karate members formed part of the South African team that participated in the divisional tournament held every four years in China. The team brought back 5 trophies. Mbizana Municipality is very involved and support participation of Mbizana youth in karate both locally and internationally, for example participation in the karate development tournament and training camps held annually by International Karate Organization (IKO) Matsushima which target children from 8 years to 17 years of all genders. The Municipality holds the Mayors Cup annually targeting under 19 years olds in about 8 sports codes including karate.

According to the Municipal Manager of Mbizana Municipality Clive Noconjo funding and poor training facilities remain a challenge. Noconjo a karate enthusiast from the rural villages of Mbizana in the Eastern Cape which is home to the African National Congress (ANC) liberation stalwarts like the late Oliver Reginald Tambo and Winnie Madikizela Mandela, believes that the discipline that is derived from karate can help children stay away from alcohol, drugs and crime.

Noconjo who has made karate a lifestyle having participated amongst others in the 2007 European championship realised that karate can play an instrumental role in creating harmony within communities, promote a healthier lifestyle and pave way for the youth for a better life and opportunities both locally and internationally hence he also established the Ingqayika Karate Club in Mbizana whose objectives include building social cohesion in the community, promoting a healthy lifestyle as well as instilling values and discipline that will make rural children responsible citizens and leaders of the future.

Karate not only gives the youth of Mbizana international exposure but also assist in building confidence and instilling a belief that no matter where one comes from, the world is full of possibilities. Some dream of learning in countries like China where they will specialise in karate whilst studying towards a qualification whilst also learning the language and culture. This exposure can give them an opportunity to be competitive participants internationally. Coming from rural areas should not deter youth from having dreams and working hard in order to achieve those dreams even with the challenges of poverty that are evident in the rural areas. The International Karate Organization (IKO) Matsushima South African Branch Chief, Noconjo’s believes that there is a lot of talent in the rural areas and is willing to go an extra mile to ensure that this talent is nurtured. His long term dream is to establish a high performance centre which will make local athletes to be champions in the prestigious events of the world including the world tournament and Olympics. The lack of finances for equipment in training remains a challenge, he explains. Karate certainly gives hope to the youth of Mbizana and is one of the keys that may create an opportunity for them to make their mark in the international scene.




February/March 2020


















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