Innocent Kurira, Sports Reporter
COMBAT sport has grown a bad reputation over the years as people feel it encourages violence, especially in children.
Mixed Martial Arts, which employs a brutal blend of boxing, wrestling, judo, and karate, rugby and boxing are perennially among the most popular sport, whose status is a frightening indication of the flowering of violence in sports booming to unknown levels.
Although the flooding of violent games has no clear benefit of social benefit, Vusumuzi Ncube, founding president of Panthers Taekwondo Club, believes it’s a misconception that these sports are “violent” and that has affected the growth of sport in the country.
He said most people misinterpret taekwondo as a violent or aggressive practice yet it has rules that instil discipline if observed correctly.
Taekwondo, he said, enhances social skills and teamwork, and also addresses the increasing scourge of bullying and other aggressive behaviours by improving students’ abilities to resolve conflicts in a peaceful manner.
“Taekwondo is a sport that is not yet popular, but has been there for a while. If you mention taekwondo to anyone, they think of violent fighting, which is wrong,” said Ncube.
“What we actually teach is confidence, fitness and general well-being. Some even join taekwondo for weight loss, while for others it’s just fun.”
Ncube feels taekwondo does not get much attention from authorities, hindering the growth of the sport.
“In terms of growth, I feel we are not getting the support that other sport codes like football get. It is almost like we do not exist. Our wish is for the Government to give us more attention and invest more in combat like sports. When we organise tournaments, it’s not easy to get sponsorship because most companies think they’ll be supporting violence, and it’s a misconception that should be clarified,” said Ncube.
“We are saying taekwondo teaches us discipline; it’s teaches life skills. For example, if a child starts doing taekwondo at the age of four, he/she will grow up with high self-esteem and discipline. They will know if their uniform is dirty and when it’s time for training. My Grade 4 child can take class because he knows warm-up, training and warm down.”
He says the sport has also not been spared by the devastating effects of the covid-19 pandemic.
“After the lockdown, a lot of people have not returned to the sport. Panthers Academy was running taekwondo in 16 schools around Bulawayo, but those numbers have dropped significantly. We hope to retain those and more numbers, but it will not be easy. We are already planning to go on a drive that will see us going to the suburbs where a lot of talent remains untapped,” said Ncube.
He thanked the SRC for helping with the process of registering his academy.
It was not easy when he started, but the Ministry of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation invited him to events and workshops, enabling him to reach out to the wider [email protected]