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Durban to build on success of karate championships

Durban ‒ Cheers from fans in the stands filled the Olive Convention Centre Hall in Durban last weekend as the All Africa Karate Championships took centre stage. Something else to cheer about is the prospect of women’s empowerment through karate. South Africa came sixth out of the 25 countries that took part.

“South Africa showed the kind of sportsmanship we are renowned for. We are looking forward to the next championship in Ghana next year,” said Karate South Africa president, Sonny Pillay.

The Egypt team took the overall grand championship, followed by the Morocco as team champions.

At the opening ceremony on Saturday, Pillay was presented with a 9th-degree black belt by the All Africa Federation leadership.

Pillay said a gender equity social outreach programme was in the pipeline, to be managed by his wife, Anita Pillay, who has been empowering women by training young and old and is enthusiastic about taking the project forward so that women are empowered with self-defence.

As part of Egypt’s winning team, Dr Feryal Abdelaziz said she was happy about taking part in the All Africa Championships and the progress she had made in her career so far.

“I joined karate at the age of seven and competed at an international championship at the age of nine. I’m an awarded Olympic gold medallist (Beijing 2022, Kumite +61kg) and for the African, Mediterranean and Arab championships,” said Abdelaziz.

She said she was happy to be in Durban for the championships because of the great atmosphere.

She attributed her success to the support of her family. “My family always pushes me to do my best. They also support my training. They give me a boost every time,“ she said.

Her advice to others is: “Do not always look at what you do not have, but work hard and do what you love. Do not listen to negative things that people say and trust in yourself. You can do anything.”

Pillay told The Independent on Saturday that he had approached Abdelaziz about GBV and self-defence workshops in Durban and was awaiting the thumbs up from the eThekwini City Municipality for support. He said this programme was expected to roll out next year, and would address the scourge of gender-based violence and promote gender-based equity.

“Abdelaziz is hot property in karate and I believe it will be of value for KwaZulu-Natal to get her expertise and take her into the townships and schools. She has the power to inspire the youth of today,” said Pillay.

“We will be hosting the Africa Challenge which has 1 500 participants from 70 countries next year. The future of karate looks bright and promising,” said Pillay.