News from Maison de la Gare
Tournament of HopeTweeter
A bright day for talibés and for karate
Maison de la Gare’s fifth annual karate tournament was a great success.
The karate program at Maison de la Gare was started in early 2015 by 13-year-old Canadian Robbie
Hughes, who had just earned his black belt, and his mother Sonia LeRoy
(you can read the story of this
beginning at this link). The program has been sustained since that time
by generous sponsorship
of the aspiring talibés by students in Robbie and Sonia’s dojo in Ottawa, Canada, and by donations
from many other individuals around the world. In partnership with Sor-Karaté’s president Sensei
Ignéty Bâ, the program has welcomed and trained hundreds of vulnerable
talibé children, instilling
self-confidence, perseverance, self-respect, and valuable self-defense skills.
On tournament day, young talibé karate students of all ages competed under the watchful eyes of president Issa Kouyaté and members of the Maison de la Gare team along with a great number of other talibé children. Program founders Robbie and Sonia were also present, visiting from Canada for the first time since the beginning of the pandemic.
Over 30 hopeful and excited Maison de la Gare karatekas competed, proudly wearing their white gi (karate uniforms). They showcased kata, kihon and kumite skills, the three essential elements of karate. The competition was judged by Senegalese referees from the World Karate Federation.
Both participants and spectators were very enthusiastic. Many of the competitors had been training in the Maison de la Gare program for many years and had earned higher belt ranks. Twelve of them were awarded their yellow belts on tournament day by Sensei Robbie, after having undergone strenuous testing earlier in the week. Sensei Ignéty Bâ remarked that "in comparison with previous years, this year’s tournament welcomed many more participants and was of remarkable technical quality."
A very special guest watched the tournament with interest. Because of his passion for karate and his love for these children, one of the Senegalese karate cup winners, Lamine Ndiaye, came to admire these aspiring karatekas. He asserted afterwards that "these children have all the potential and rigor needed to become great champions in this discipline and to participate in international tournaments in the future".
Many trophies and medals were awarded to the winners of the competitions in three different divisions, beginner, intermediate, and advanced. The medals and trophies had been donated by Canadian and world karate champions to celebrate and further inspire the talibé karatekas. The finalists in the kumite fight, in kata and in kihon each received their trophies and medals. Grand champions in the intermediate and advanced categories were presented respectively with the Douvris Young Guns Cup and the Douvris Cup by Sensei Robbie. These cups had been donated by Robbie and Sonia’s Ottawa dojo, Douvris Martial Arts.
After a thrilling day of competition, Sensei Ignéty Bâ expressed how he believes this day will further instill hope in these exceptional talibé children, in view of their outstanding performances. He said that they have all the necessary technique to compete at national and international levels. He exhorted the marabouts who control these children’s difficult lives to accompany them and to allow them to be free to reach the summits that they are capable of.
Amadou, who won the Douvris Cup, expressed his gratitude to the founders of Maison de la Gare’s karate program. He also expressed his appreciation for the prizes he has won and for what karate has given him: discipline, wisdom, and life skills.
This competition was a great opportunity for the talibé karatekas to show their love for this discipline and to bring out the best in themselves. They seized the opportunity during this tournament to reach for their full potential and to express their will to learn, to succeed and to move forward.
“Because the Talibés of today are the Men of tomorrow!”