(By Makarita Lenoa, WKF Vice-president)
When the WKF President, Mr Antonio Espinos, visited Oceania on the occasion of the 16th Oceania Karate Championship held in Suva (Fiji) his presence wasn’t only meaningful to karatekas and members of the Oceania Karate Federation, it also provided an opportunity for NF Presidents and Officials, Referees, Coaches and Athletes to meet with the WKF President in person.
The government of Fiji also acknowledged his presence as it is not common for a President of a World Federation to visit Oceania in particular the Pacific Islands, like Fiji.
Mr Espinos arrived in Suva, the capital of Fiji on the evening of Wednesday 10th September and was accorded a traditional Fijian welcome ceremony on Thursday 11th September by the Fijians, before he opened the OKF Congress in the afternoon.
His presence at the Technical Seminar earlier in the morning to address the Referees, Coaches and senior athletes at the Fiji Olympic House was a very special moment, to all in attendance as these three groups play a very significant role in creating and maintaining the positive image of the Karate to the public as well as the development of the sport. Therefore, a common understanding among these three groups of the WKF Rules and Regulations governing Karate will take the sport a long way harmoniously.
Mr Antonio Espinos in his capacity as the World Karate Federation President also paid courtesy calls to the Minister of Sports , Mr Viliame Naupoto and the IOC member in Fiji, Dr Robin Mitchell who is also the President of the Oceania National Olympic Committee (ONOC). He also met with the Fiji Association of Sports And National Olympic Committee President (FASANOC), Mr Reg Sanday before the Opening Ceremony on Friday 12th September 2014.
His presence and attendance spoke volumes to OKF members as well as to sporting authorities and the Ministry of Sports here in Fiji. It is very important especially when OKF is spread over the vast Pacific Ocean that OKF members heard from the WKF President himself that OKF is one of the five Continental Federations of the World Karate Federation and although our geographical spread and high travel costs can make one feel isolated OKF is still a member of the bigger and World Karate family.
On behalf of Karate Fiji members,the Government and people of Fiji,and OKF members, I would like to again thank the WKF President, Mr Antonio Espinos for taking the time to experience in a personal way the unique challenges of Oceania in our effort to develop our competitors and to contribute positively to the development of Karate in Oceania as a Continental Federation of the World Karate Federation.