Next stop for Stephen: Karate World Union Championships

Belinda Bantham -- Tue, 07/25/2017 - 11:07

Next stop for Stephen: Karate World Union Championships

Stephen Moeketsi, a third-year BEd student and avid karateka, has earned himself a spot in the South African student team that will compete in the Karate World Union Championships in Russia later this year.

As a member of the karate squad on the North-West University’s (NWU’s) campus in Vanderbijlpark, Stephen recently won two medals at the University Sport South Africa (USSA) Championships held at the Tshwane University of Technology (TUT).

His performance – which saw him successfully defend his title as Semi Contact Champion – contributed to the squad’s overall eighth position among 18 other institutions of higher learning. What makes the squad’s performance even more remarkable, is the fact that this was the first time that the team participated in the USSA championships. The team was only formally constituted in 2016.

What many do not know is that Stephen, who hails from Sebokeng, is also the coach of the squad. As coach he was elected as a member of the USSA Karate National Executive Committee as a coordinator for the Full Contact Division.

“USSA 2017 was one of the major championships on the country’s sports calendar and featured some of the best karatekas in the country. I am happy with my results and those of the team,” says Stephen.

The road to success

Sensei Stephen is no stranger to the Tatame – a term referring to a karate ring. His journey to karate success started in 2007 and since then he has won numerous titles and awards.

Through hard work, perseverance and a burning passion for the sport, Stephen not only constituted the campus’s first karate squad, but also managed to increase the sport’s popularity amongst his fellow students. “I remember that I had to practice in front of Vergelegen Hall because I could not find an available venue,” says Stephen and laughs when he recalls how students would crowd around him to see what he was doing.

Today, he’s a Sensei to a dojo (karate school) boasting 11 hard-kicking karatekas! His ultimate goal is to develop and manage the biggest dojo in Vanderbijlpark, but says he first has to convince funders and sponsors that the campus has potential – something the squad’s recent USSA performance will assist in.

Mr Joseph Matloung, sports officer on the campus responsible for various sporting codes including karate, applauded the team for what he termed “sterling” results.

How to join?

The team trains weekdays from 17:00 to 18:30 next to Building 23. Anyone interested in joining (including beginners) is welcome to join in the training sessions.