Kakamega – Local karate clubs in Kakamega County have called on the county government to include karate in the Governor’s Annual Cup tournament. This inclusion, they believe, will aid in nurturing talent and identifying potential competitors in the sport. Christopher Ouma, Secretary-General of the Kakamega County Karate Association and a referee with the Kenya Karate Federation, highlighted the growing popularity of karate in the county, particularly among young people.
According to Kenya News Agency, integrating karate into the Governor’s Cup would help popularize the sport in Kakamega and enable local clubs to produce karatekas capable of competing at national and international levels. He also encouraged the residents of Kakamega to engage in karate, emphasizing its similarities to other sports.
Kakamega boasts several karate clubs, including those at Masinde Muliro University, Sigalagala National Polytechnic, Kakamega Karate Club, and clubs at Mbale Secondary School, Musingu Secondary School, and in Mumias and Lugari Sub Counties. Ouma pointed out that karate requires minimal space, only needing a hall and a tatami (a mat) to minimize injury risks during training.
Wilson Mutende, Chairman of the Kakamega County Karate Club, mentioned ongoing efforts to ensure better training for local karatekas and to involve stakeholders in improving the sport. He appealed to Mophat Mandela, the county government’s County Executive Committee Member in charge of Sports, for support in providing training equipment, sportswear, and logistical assistance to enhance the sport’s vibrancy in the area.
Ouma, speaking to KNA in Kakamega, emphasized the need for specific equipment such as handmitts, tatami mats, uniforms, and protective gear to facilitate safe and effective training. He also noted the role of karate clubs in engaging youth, imparting life skills, and combating drug and substance abuse.
George Alexander Mulama, Western Region Karate Association Commissioner, reported that the association is actively recruiting karatekas from grassroots levels, including primary and secondary schools, and colleges. He noted that karate is inclusive, offering categories for various age groups.
Musungu Ngaira, a trainer at the Kakamega County Karate Club, shared the club’s recent achievements, including winning the Ladies category at the 2019 Inter-counties competitions in Nakuru and participating in the 2019 African Karate Championships in Rwanda. However, he acknowledged challenges, such as the perception of karate as a foreign sport, and expressed a desire to make it as ubiquitous as football in the region.
The karatekas also encouraged women to participate in karate, emphasizing its benefits in developing alertness, physical fitness, and courage.