As the nation hosts the Continental Karate Championships this week it seems a club from Rubavu District will be on a double mission; winning medals as well as making a statement on the national scene.
Rwanda is hosting the 17th African Seniors Karate Championships and the 9th African Juniors Karate Championships – the biggest and most glamorous African Karate event. The first matches will be played Friday, at Intare Conference Arena in Rusororo.
Each and every member of the 30-member national team is, without doubt, working hard and tipped to shine when the games begin Friday.
Several local clubs are represented on the national team. But what makes Zen Karate-Do Club special? This is the club with the biggest representation (eight players) on the national team.
According to players from the club, this has not come by chance. They work hard.
For one, the national team’s entire male team Kata squad of three – Alphan Nsabimana, 24, Thomas Habanabakize, 25, and Jean Claude Munyaburanga, 23, – is from Zen.
Kata is display of a set sequence of moves in a pre-arranged fight against imaginary opponents.
In the national team’s female team Kata set up, there are two ladies from Zen; Razia Uwase, 20, and Aisha Umuhoza, 24.
Their third partner, Sakina Cyuzuzo, 20, is from the Nyarutarama-based Last Samurai Karate club.
On the list of fighting (Kumité) players selected by current head coach, Egyptian expert Hashim Mahmoud Mohamed Hashim, there are two ladies – Lucky Niyitegeka, 17, and Jovia Umunezero, 17, and one man, Jean Damascene Kuradusenge, 26, from Zen too.
Kuradusenge, an IT and computer science student at Kampala International University in Uganda, has practiced Karate at the club for the past 10 years and says they owe much to their senior coach, Amir Bugabo.
Kuradusenge told Times Sport yesterday that, “Sensei [teacher] Bugabo now has many black belts. We grew up seeing many around us and they always come back to help us. Today, we have a big young generation of Karatekas coming up too.
“In the very near future, we want to rule over the national team. That’s our target too, and we shall achieve it.”
Bugabo, 55, told Times Sport that there is no big secret to his club’s success as he simply loves Karate and everyone who practices the martial arts sport.
“I take these kids on when they are as young as seven and groom them as my own. I instill in them respect and deep love for the sport. But most important for us has been consistency in training. We all work hard, smart and regularly.
“We train with determination and focus. Then I base my teachings on good research and I am always happy that the players listen and apply our teachings. We are happy about the results and I am encouraged to go an extra mile.”
Rwanda’s first silver
Last month, a player from Zen made history as far as Rwanda’s Karate is concerned.
The country’s biggest ever silverware – the first silver medal – in an international Karate contest was brought home last month by a youngster from Zen.
Umunezero made history at the 3rd African Youth Games in Algiers, Algeria when she battled to win Silver.
Kata specialists Uwase and Umuhoza have represented Rwanda in several international tournaments, out of the country, before and the latter also boasts a Bronze medal won in the past.