Karate star aims to inspire

2019-03-26 06:00
Ayakha Qhomfo shows her medals to the kids at Manenberg.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

Ayakha Qhomfo shows her medals to the kids at Manenberg.PHOTO: Earl Haupt

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Discipline, dedication and sacrifice are the key tools that helped the multi-medallist karateka from Gugulethu to stay on top of her game.

Gugulethu-born Ayakha Qhomfo (15) shared these tips with youngsters in Manenberg during her fifth leg of her township tour, last Wednesday. She attributes her success to having made some tough choices which included giving up on many opportunities young girls of her age have, including spending time playing with friends, in order to achieve what she has so far. She has never imagined herself competing on international stages, and when she entered and won the Karate World Championships in Namibia in 2016, she realised that one can achieve their goals if they put their mind into them. “It (winning) made me feel good and more so, it was my first professional participation,” she tells People’s Post during her township tour which is aimed at motivating girls and boys her age and older to stand up, work hard and fight for their dreams.

For Ayakha, it all started when she was younger, when her father used to encourage her to participate in sports but not traditional codes such as netball. She says she just loved it and never looked back. In 2009 she joined a karate club in Gordon’s Bay, started taking part in local competition and that is where her journey began.

She now stays in Pretoria where she is the member of the Junior Shotokan Karate Academy, but she says she feels strongly about not forgetting where one comes from hence her current township tour in Cape Town. “I am most proud and grateful for my dreams and the fact that I can help others,” she says of her tour, during which her intention is to motivate and encourage the youth to never give up no matter the obstacles.

The athlete who scooped three gold medals (categories: Team Kata, Individual Kata and individual Kumite) in Russia in 2018 is preparing for championships in Germany, to be hosted in 2020 and would appreciate any form of help she can get from the community. She said that she had her father to thank for encouraging her to take part in sports because there are multiple benefits. “Karate helps you in self-defence, in your well-being and you just keep on learning,” she said.

She also rubbished the stereotypical claims usually made by many that karate was meant for men saying that women are just as capable. Ayakha is not only excelling in karate but also in her grade 10 studies at Pretoria Girls’ High School where she is not just a learner but also a tutor and peer counsellor. One of the many girls that came to sponge from Ayakha’s motivational tips was another grade 10 learner Jade Minaar (15) who is also a resident in Manenberg. “She made me feel more valuable and also explained to me that it doesn’t matter where I come from, but I can still achieve my goals if I put my mind to it,” she said.

Also, in attendance was the ward councillor Bonita Jacobs who said that they needed more young people like Ayakha, who are doing well in their respective fields, to come back to their communities to ignite hope in the youngsters. “It (the visit by Ayakha) was something I really appreciated, she inspired young people because there is a connection between them and her. And that is because she is also from the township, so they can relate to her,” says Jacobs, who revealed that their community is riddled with unemployment and many children staying out of school.

Ayakha, who has visited several townships, also made a stop at her home township, at Gugulethu Sports Complex. There she met up with a group of dancers and local young residents and spread the message of never throwing in the towel and perusing your dreams.

Her manager, Phumzile Nteyi said that the intention of the township tour was to reduce and eventually do away with the notion that for one to succeed they must be in Johannesburg because Ayakha is from Cape Town and that is where it all started. He said that their wish was to create a culture of local heroes and Ayakha is the perfect example of that.

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