Mashaya upbeat under lockdown Wilfred Mashaya

Grace Chingoma Senior Sports Reporter
REGIONAL Sportsman of the Year, Wilfred Mashaya, and his Zim Ninja Academy have said the lockdown has had no effect on their sport which relies more on individual input.

Mashaya has won several accolades in martial arts, including being the first African Kobudo World Champion.

He is the first Zimbabwean to be inducted in the International Martial Arts Hall of Fame.

Following his exploits in 2018, Mashaya was hosted by  the Minister of Youth, Sport, Arts and Recreation, Kirsty Coventry, who encouraged him to start an academy and help the development of sport in Zimbabwe.

Just before sport was forced to take a break, due to the coronavirus pandemic in early March, Sensei Mashaya, who is also the Branch Chief of the Kobudo style he pioneered in the country,  held the first Kobudo grading here.

A number of both males and females graduated with first grade known as 10th Kyu belt.

The second grading was due in July but will have to wait until sporting activities return on the radar.

Kobudo is a Japanese (Okinawan) martial arts focused on weapons training.

“I can professionally teach and develop it in Zimbabwe as l was made the ambassador in 2016 after my first tournament where l won silver and bronze before l scooped gold in 2018.

“We are encouraging more female athletes and  kids to join martial arts and l am happy that, at the grading exercise, we had quite a number who can now play around with weapons.

“I am happy that l have managed to groom guys who, funds permitting, can represent the country at the international stage.

“We started from scratch but they are ready to compete and win,” he said.

Mashaya said they were even working harder during the lockdown.

“It should not affect us, martial arts is just yourself and a small space to work on unlike other sports like football where you need football grounds, among other things.

“After the lockdown, we just want to perfect what we are working on and host tournaments we had lined up”, he said.

Their invitations to countries such as Japan, Russia and Spain were affected by the pandemic. However, lack of sponsorship has been a huge challenge.

“It has been a big challenge to get sponsorship despite being the first Zimbabwean to be crowned regional chairperson,” he said.

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