NAKU 2019 National Trials held

Karate trials were held to select a team that will represent Namibia at major tournaments this year.

11 March 2019 | Sports

Contributed - The Namibia Karate Union (NAKU) hosted its national trials at the Dome, Swakopmund, last weekend.

The event was conducted on a closed basis with the main focus of selecting athletes to represent Namibia at numerous international events throughout 2019. The trials not only highlighted Namibia’s greatest karate talents, but also served as a basis for the selection of a larger squad, with the purpose of developing the sport in Namibia.

This year’s trials featured over 130 athletes from northern, central and coastal regions. All nine affiliated styles (Goju Kai Namibia, Okinawa Goju-Ryu Karate Namibia, Karate Zen, Namibia JKA, Shotokan Karate Academy International, Tenshinkan, Bushido Shotokan, Kushido, and the Namibia Kyukoshin Karate Organization) were represented at the trials.

The tournament also featured many of Namibia’s top international karateka including: Suzelle Pronk (2018 Commonwealth bronze medalist and the first Namibian to participate at a K1 Premier League Tournament, captain of the 2018 national karate team); Mayvonne Swart (bronze medalist at the 2018 African Youth Games and double medalist (silver and bronze) at the 2018 African Junior Karate Championships); Freddy Mwiya Jr (bronze medalist at the 2018 African Junior Karate Championships and double medalist (gold and bronze) at the 2018 Commonwealth Karate Championships; and Michelle Tjimuku (bronze medalist at the 2018 African Junior Karate Championships and member of the 2018 African Youth Games team).

During the trials, the athletes’ performances were assessed by a selection panel consisting of senior instructors from the various different styles as well as the national coach, Llewellyn Manale. Athletes were scored along various different criteria throughout the day and previous years’ performances were also taken into account by the selection panel. The panel will decide on two or three athletes per division to make up the national squad, which is due to be announced within the upcoming week.

The first major tournament for the team will be the 2019 AUSC Region 5 Karate Championships, which NAKU will be hosting between 23 and 25 of May at the Dome in Swakopmund. Coach Llewellyn Manale and his team aim to improve on last year’s performance at Region 5 (3rd overall of 7 Countries present); placing Namibian Karate as the dominant force in Southern Africa. Other than Region 5, NAKU also hopes for a strong performance at this year’s Africa Karate Championships which is to be held in Gaborone, Botswana, from 12 to 14 July.

The primary challenge faced by NAKU is financing its athletes and tournaments. NAKU currently receives no additional financing from the Namibia Sports Commission (NSC) and is only sponsored by Paratus Telecom with regards to the hosting of its website and email. Other than financing its national tournament (budgeted at N$50 000) which is to be held in September, NAKU also faces N$50 000 per year in annual affiliation fees and has set aside a budget of N$100 000 for this year’s Region 5 Championships.

NAKU hopes that with the help of sponsors, it can allow more athletes to participate in international tournaments; and also hopes to be able to implement a National Karate League which will allow for more participation opportunities and better tracking of athlete performance year round. Please do not hesitate to forward any queries regarding sponsorship to the president of the Namibia Karate Union, Cornelius D’Alton ([email protected]) or the public relations officer, Stefan van der Merwe ([email protected])

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