Rwanda Taekwondo Federation (RTF) is set to receive a significant boost from the Taekwondo Humanitarian Foundation ( THF) and the World Taekwondo Federation (WTF) starting next year, according to officials.
According to RTF technical director Martin Koonce, the boost is part of the initiative to promote peace, social development and the integration of vulnerable populations especially, and to execute humanitarian projects in refugee camps in Rwanda.
A key component of the programmes will be the establishment of a dedicated taekwondo academy for refugees in the country.
“This is a great opportunity to show the importance of taekwondo in the post-genocide era,” said Koonce, in reference to the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi in which over a million people were killed.
He noted that, “It gives Rwanda the opportunity to take the good news and the tenets of taekwondo to refugees from Congo and Burundi.”
A budget has already been secured for the construction and operation of the Rwandan academy, in the form of a US$200,000 pledge offered to Choue by the China-based Huamin Charity Foundation.
WTF president Chungwon Choue promised that “WTF is ready and willing to support and they are asking International Olympic Committee IOC to support too; we will do it together.”
“The idea of a THF humanitarian initiative in Rwanda had first been raised by former IOC president and current UN Special Envoy for Youth Refugees and Sport Jacques Rogge,” Choue added.
There are an estimated 150,000 refugees in Rwanda, largely fleeing civil strife in DR Congo and Burundi.
The THF is currently operating taekwondo classes for Syrian refugees in Azraq in Jordan and will open a dedicated training academy in the camp early next year.
“Taekwondo is not a federation, it is a family,” Koonce added. “Taekwondo promotes a life of well- being.”
Choue agreed, noting that there were already linkages between the WTF and Rwanda: The WTF’s global sponsor, Booyoung Group, has sent 2000 pianos to taekwondo as part of its corporate social responsibility activities.
Choue himself will make a reconnaissance visit to Rwanda, where he will attend the country’s “Gorilla Open” taekwondo tournament in March, 2017.
The signing of the agreement took place at the Delta Hotel and Convention Center, on the sidelines of the 2016 WTF World Taekwondo Junior Championships, Ended on November 20 in Burnaby, Canada.