The mood in the stadium was enthusiastic as hundreds of spectators watched and encouraged a team of karate players from different clubs in Rwanda taking part in the 3rd Karate Ambassador’s Cup at Petit Stade in Amahoro Stadium on 10th February 2018.
The tournament that started at 8 am on Saturday was organized by the Embassy of Japan and the Rwanda Karate Federation (FERWAKA) and saw over 250 karate players from more than 22 clubs in Rwanda contest in different categories of both kata in which players described detailed patterns of movements and kumite in which two players fight each other.
Participants competed in individual and group matches for both men and women. Winners walked away with gold, silver and bronze medals in each category.
While talking to journalists after the tournament, H.E. Mr. Takayuki Miyashita, Ambassador of Japan, said that Japan is happy to be supporting Rwanda in developing its karate culture and that he also expects many Rwandan athletes will have mastered the game by 2020 when Japan will be hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games in Tokyo which features “unity in diversity” as one of its main concepts.
“I am really impressed to see the way these young Rwandans are liking and learning karate and I believe that a good number will participate in Tokyo Olympic Games 2020. We shall continue our support and I encourage these karate practitioners to train harder so that they can win the medals during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games” says Miyashita.
The spectators were treated to an amazing performance from Mr. Kazuki Yuji, JICA’s karate Volunteer, who performed kata and fascinated the whole audience with his extraordinary skill.
Ambassador Miyashita also mentioned that his government has decided to donate USD 67,372 to FERWAKA for the purchase of karate equipment including 400 pieces of tatami mats as part of its effort to promote Japanese sports culture and make Rwandan karate practitioners more competitive.
The donated mats will be arriving in the country in the next few months and be in time for the African Karate Championship 2018 that will take place later this year.
“The equipment will be arriving in Kigali in a few months and it will give the players ample time to prepare for the tournament. I’m looking forward to seeing not only Rwandans but also all African karate practitioners play karate matches by using those mats” said the Japanese ambassador.
Théogène Uwayo, the president of Rwanda Karate federation (FERWAKA) while giving his opening remarks said that the competitions will serve as a platform for selecting a team that will participate in the African Karate Championship 2018.
Rwanda has over 3,000 registered karate players but the last time the country participated in a continental game was in 2014 in which the country managed to scoop the 7th position out of 15 competing states.
Uwayo said donated equipment would definitely improve the quality of practice and it would be possible for Rwandan team to compete for the better position.
After the competitions, the ambassador together with his wife plus the CEO of RGB Prof Anastase Shyaka and other dignitaries awarded players with bronze, silver and gold medals as well as trophies.
Karate is martial arts originated from Japan that has seen over 3,000 Rwandans registered in the local federation and the Embassy of Japan together with FERWAKA has been organizing annual karate competition since 2014.
The good bilateral relationship between Japan and Rwanda continues over 55 years, working together in areas such as agriculture, transportation, education, capacity building, and water and sanitation.
The relationship has also seen at least 10 masters scholarships offered annually to Rwandans in various areas including ICT and at least 39 Rwandans have benefited from the Africa Business Education (ABE) Initiative since 2014.
Although Japan is widely known for its sophisticated technologies including car manufacturing, infrastructure, and ICT, its indigenous culture including karate also fascinates people in Rwanda. Earlier last week, The Embassy of Japan also organized the Japan Film Festival at Goethe Institute in Kigali and screened two animation movies which depicts imaginary world with both hand-drawn and computed animation, attracting more than 200 audiences.
In his targets as Japanese envoy to Rwanda for the last 17 months, Miyashita has prioritized enhancing political dialogue, bringing more Japanese business investments and promoting cultural exchange between the two countries.