Third-year medical student, Zahra Kader, is a seasoned karate-ga and a member of the national team.
Kader lives by the sage advice she received in primary school:
“My coach would always tell us we should keep our heads small and our dreams big,” says the 21-year-old Pietermaritzburg, KZN native.
These words have kept her grounded while representing South Africa at various tournaments, an honour she has had since Grade 6. In this capacity, she first travelled to nearby countries in southern Africa and then further north and overseas.
Kader has been part of the Proteas, South Africa’s national team, since 2017. South Africa’s top-ranked karate-ga recently participated in the FISU Combat Sports Championships in Turkey as part of the Universities Sports South Africa (USSA) team. The event attracts the world’s best university athletes who battle it in six sports including boxing, karate, Muay Thai, sambo, wrestling, and wushu.
Kader says that the demands of the university have not slowed her sports ambitions and she aspires to one day become a world champion.
Both her academic and sports passions anchor her and she hopes to use her “academic and sporting careers to help less fortunate communities and to empower women from all walks of life.”
Kader plans to specialise in the field of Obstetrics and Gynaecology and realises the importance of balancing academia with athletics.
“Wits has been extremely generous with regard to supporting athletes. The University affords us opportunities and is considerate of our individual sporting needs. From a mental point of view, it is great to have the support of your university, as this ultimately affects your overall performance.”
To avoid being overwhelmed by her schedule, Kader tries to work consistently. “In working consistently you avoid unnecessary stress and allow yourself the opportunity to participate in other activities that you may enjoy,” she says.
It also helps that she chose a sport that promotes character and discipline.
“When studying medicine it is essential to have a healthy state of mind. Karate inculcates both discipline and respect, which helps me to keep a strict schedule, which in turn helps me academically.
I also adjust my sleeping schedule to facilitate training in the morning before campus activities. Personally, I believe that incorporating your training schedule into your personal daily timetable, it motivates you to complete tasks more efficiently,” concludes Kader.