Nkechi Okeke-Julian, a Delta State-based Karate Coach, on Monday appealed to the Karate Federation of Nigeria (KFN), to always feature the nation’s karate athletes in international competitions regularly.
Okeke-Julian told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos that lack of exposure to requisite competitions was a major factor that had hindered the development of the sport.
“There is the need for our teams to attend international tournaments both in Africa and Europe to gauge our level of development.
“Lack of exposure is killing the sport, and when you do not attend tournaments, you cannot compete with your counterparts, you become archaic,’’ she said.
The coach added that national trials had been held without the anticipated growth.
“Most times when trials are conducted, athletes do not attend the competitions. What we hear after the trials is that there are no funds,’’ she said.
She recalled that some African countries whose athletes competed at the Africa Games in 2011 performed better at the 2015 Games due to their participation in regular competitions.
“Countries that competed with us in Maputo have upgraded their performance levels.
“We won a bronze medal in 2011, and in 2015 at Congo Brazzaville, we still won a bronze.
“Some countries that did not win any medal in 2011, however, won silver at the 2015 edition because they had started to attend competitions.
“They have acquired more knowledge and worked on their mistakes, we are talented in Nigeria but talent without nurturing is zero,” she said.
Okeke-Julian added that coaches should be encouraged to attend seminars that would keep them abreast of current trends in the sport.
“We have good coaches in Nigeria but at the same time, we need to also update our knowledge.
“There are rules that the international body recently introduced, and not many of us know about them.
“KFN should please also look into this,” she said.
She also decried the lack of grassroots’ competitions.
NAN reports that Karate was denied participation in the three previous Olympic Games, but the chances are a lot better this time for the traditional Japanese sport.
It was not included in the Beijing, London and Rio Games.
Tokyo organisers, who are also considering the inclusion of baseball and softball, squash and surfing, have until Sept. 30 to select one or more events to recommend to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
The IOC’s would take the final decision in August, when it would meet ahead of the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. (NAN)