The President of the World Karate Federation (WKF), Antonio Espinós says the involvement of more female referees and judges grew the game in Africa.
According to Espinós, the advances in African refereeing is also confirmed with the growing presence of female judges officiating at events.
He said 10 top-level female referees from six countries, including Nigerian Zainab Saleh participated at the 2019 UFAK Senior Championships in Botswana in July, the News Agency of Nigeria reports.
Espinós said that over 75 referees from 25 countries officiated at the 2019 edition of the continental event. He added that the number represented a notable increase from previous editions of 56 referees from 19 nations who participated in the tournament in 2018, while 43 judges from 19 nations registered in 2017.
“One of the aspects that contributed to the success of the event was the notable progress of refereeing on the continent. Our primary goal is to further enhance our refereeing to make sure that the rules of our sport are constantly protected” he said.
“It is also our intention to continue keeping up with the times to further demonstrate that Karate is a modern, unbiased and balanced sport. All of this was clearly manifested at the UFAK Championships. We are committed to continually improving our sport in all its structures, and referees are a fundamental part of our progress,” WKF President said.
The President said the improvement of the structures and training programmes for referees and judges had ensured the continued attainment of high standards of officiating and progress of the sport in Africa. He also noted that the level of competition had increased in Africa as “the sport continues to take steps towards its Olympic debut in 2020 in Tokyo.”