WKF President Antonio Espinós believes the interest in the upcoming Youth Training Camp & Karate 1 Youth Cup demonstrates the high amount of interest in karate ©WKF

World Karate Federation (WKF) President Antonio Espinós believes the number of confirmed participants at the upcoming Youth Training Camp & Karate 1 Youth Cup demonstrates the high amount of interest youngsters have in the sport.

A total of 1,249 participants from 56 countries have signed up for the event in Umag in Croatia, due to take place from next Monday (June 27) until July 3.

The WKF opening up the Youth Camp to include karatekas aged between 10 and 13 has also paid dividends, they claim, with 400 youngsters in that age group due to take part.

The total of attendees has increased from the 700 who participated in the 2015 edition.

The first three days will be devoted solely to the training camp before the Youth Cup gets underway on July 1, which will feature the youngest participants.

Cadet, junior and under-21 categories will then come to the fore on July 2 and 3, the day the event is due to conclude.

“The increasing number of participants in the Youth Camp & Youth Cup represents the evidence of the importance of youth for WKF," Espinós said.

"Our intention has always been to work hard to further expand our sport among youngsters, as two-thirds of our practitioners are children. 

“Not only is karate a well-established discipline, with great and ancient tradition, but also our sport has an impressive youth component.

“In almost any country in the world karate has a strong reputation as one of the most praised, beneficial and demanded sports for children.

“It is a point of pride for all of us who love karate to see how popular it is in younger ages as well as the enthusiasm and fascination for the sport that thousands of young karatekas show when they wear their karategis in dojos, schools or recreational centres around the world.”

Over 1,000 karatekas have signed up for the event in Umag
Over 1,000 karatekas have signed up for the event in Umag ©WKF

A number of world champions are due to instruct at the event in Umag, including Brazil’s Douglas Brose, considered as one of the best karatekas from the nation of all time.

He will join Azerbaijan’s Rafael Aghayev, a multiple European and world champion at under 70 kilograms and under 75kg, at the event.

Others who have agreed to instruct the youngsters who are due to participate include world and European Champion Luca Valdesi of Italy and WKF Athletes Commission chair Davide Benetello.

“The camp has become extremely important for karate as hundreds of young karatekas from all over the world have the possibility to know one another, interact, make friends and practise the sport in sessions being taught by the best athletes and trainers of the last generations,” Benetello said.

The WKF hope the Training Camp and Youth Camp will continue to inspire youngsters to take up the sport, which has been recommended for inclusion at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, along with baseball/softball, surfing, skateboarding and sport climbing, by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Executive Board.

All five are expected to be rubber-stamped at the IOC Session on August 1 until 4 ahead of the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.