Kenya Karate team sweats over Austria World Cup trip

Sports Kenya Director, Gordon Oluoch. PHOTO/
Sports Kenya Director, Gordon Oluoch. PHOTO/

Kenya’s participation at the World Karate Championships in Austria later this month is in doubt with the national team remaining in the dark on travel arrangements.

Head coach Bonn Owiti told Citizen Digital on Tuesday the Government was yet to get back to them on the availability of tickets to the competition, urging the state to support the team to make this year’s edition after Kenya failed to qualify for the 2014 edition in Berlin, Germany.

“We have two issues that are yet to be sorted by the Government one being Visas and plans of travelling to Austria. We are still in darkness because we are being told to wait for the Principle Secretary to sign the letters so that we can be given the money to travel.

“We are pleading to the Government to do something so that we can travel to Austria because these young boys and girls have been training for the last three months and it will demoralize them much if it says we are not travelling,” the coach urged.

Commenting on the matter, Sports Kenya Director, Gordon Olouch, assured the team their issue was being addressed at the Ministry of Sports, Culture and Arts.

“We are following up their case. I was in the Ministry today (Tuesday) but unfortunately, I could not secure the funding. It will depend on the availability of funding since there are other teams who are also preparing to go out.

“We should have a clear way forward by Friday since the team is travelling next week,” the former long-serving Commissioner for Sport explained.

The event will run from Wednesday to Sunday next week with the squad fretting as the hour glass runs.

With the sport set to be introduced for the first time at the Olympics in the 2020 Tokyo Games in Japan, the coach believes participation in many tournaments will make the team attain greater heights.

“The tournament is so important to us because it is like a qualifier for the upcoming Olympics in 2020. We have a young bloody team that we are grooming up for the 2020 Olympics,” he added.

“Qualification for the Olympics is quite tight considering that only 80 karatekas participate worldwide. To achieve that it is good to attend tournaments like World Championship, African Championship, and Premier league since they give us points to qualify to the Olympics,” Owiti underscored.

Team Manager Gabriel Mutuko added that training of the officials is a key in the success of the team and various structures have been put in place to boost performance.

“We will carry along four officials who are going to undergo training and referee courses so that we have men and women who are internationally recognized in our country.

“This will step up Karate activities and standards so that when the rules change, Kenya is aware. This is where we get beaten as a team because at times you apply a technique and you are told rules changed and that is why we are going to carry them along,” he emphasised.

The team has been camping at the Safaricom Stadium in Kasarani and are scheduled to depart on Saturday.

-Report by Richard Obaga

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