Karate team impresses overseas

Khutso Phasha and came 5th for the Individual Kata Division


A group of dojo students from Bryanston and Midrand represented South Africa at the 4th World Goju-Ryu Karate Federation Championship in Romania in September.

Midrand Martial Arts Academy’s Sensei Alfredo Ruocchio said he is proud of his students and knows that, with support, they are champions in the making.

Ruocchio said, “Eight of our athletes qualified to go to the competition where 31 countries and 1 211 competitors took part. It was a tough world-class event but we have seen them put in a lot of hard work and they are very talented. They have made us very proud.”

Khutso Phasha and came 5th for the Individual Kata Division

He added that the team brought back good results. Three of the girls were placed fifth in the unison team kata division, Aitana Ruocchio, Tyler Koekemoer and Emma O’Gorman. Khutso Phasha and Tyler Koekemoer, in their individual segments, just missed a third place in the final of the repechage, still achieving great results.

The only male on the team, Khardan Ruocchio, achieved a bronze medal in the junior male kata division, against some of the top-ranked karatekas from Europe and Asia. He said, “This was the most amazing experience of my karate career and I was so proud to achieve this for my country!”

Khardan Ruocchio come 3rd and got bronze medal in his Individual Kata Division

Speaking about his athletes, Alfredo said they have been with the dojo for about eight years. “Karate is a lifetime sport it’s not seasonal, you need to dedicate a lot of time to it, to persevere. Sometimes we train five times a week, but it gets difficult at times when athletes have to compete overseas but cannot get funding and need to raise all the money themselves.”

He said karate develops one’s personality and character. Anyone who partakes in karate will end up with a better level of confidence.

Members of the Midrand Martial Arts Academy team.

One of the parents of the children who competed, Sannie Phasha, said the achievements of the team are worth more than silver and gold to the parents of the athletes who represented South Africa. She added, “It was breathtaking to witness these young athletes compete with the best in the world. More than anything this whole event demonstrated to the athletes that if you work hard on anything you are bound to reap the rewards.”

Phasha, speaking on behalf of the athletes’ parents say it took sacrifice and investment, both emotional and material, to get their children to this level. “We would like to thank everyone who contributed to this trip, friends, family, Summit College and Carlswald Minnetonka Spur for helping us with our fundraising events and other sponsors.”

The Gauteng Department of Sport, Arts, Culture and Recreation said a sports organisation can apply for funding. Media liaison and strategy director at the department of sport, Nomazwe Ntlokwana explained. “The Karate Federation must apply through the Grant-in-Aid programme, which opens in November for the 2018 financial year.”

Netball, women’s football, rugby, athletics, boxing, swimming and cricket also receive funding for development programmes, said Ntlokwana.

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Nokuthula Sonile

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