By Albert Akota
More than 100 athletes from 24 states are expected to converge in FCT Abuja for 1st ever National Junior Taekwondo Championships, which will take place between May 16, and 17, 2018.
The event, which is being organized by the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), aims to capture and rank the current youth taekwondo athletes across the nation and simultaneously to discover in-form youth athletes and upcoming talents that would represent the country at the African Youth Games (AYG) in Algeria.
Disclosing this yesterday, NTF Technical Director, Engr Chika Chukwumerije who regretted that Nigeria Taekwondo is currently at a difficult crossroads because of a lack of investment in taekwondo youth added; “Since its inauguration forty years ago, the federation has never held youth-level championships, thus ensuring our inconsistency in produce elite athletes.
This is why we win Olympic medals ever two decades. By floating age-grade tournament like this and encouraging participation, the federation aims to make our medal winning at internationals a consistent feature”
The three time Olympian further explained why the event would also be used to invite youth athletes to national youth camp.
“It is only fair that a transparent, effective and accountable method is used to extend invitations to youth camp. This tournament removes all sentiments and ensures the initial selection is based on merit and current form.”
Quizzed on why the venue was changed from Owerri to FCT Abuja, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Alhaji Sani Lawal, pointed on the uncertainty of the hosts.
“This is the third time that we gave Owerri the opportunity to host but I think that there is internal bureaucracy that made it difficult for it to be hosted at the federation’s schedule. If any situation that a state can no longer host one of our scheduled events, the event will be held at the FCT, where the federation has its head office, so that there will be minimal disruption to the federation calendar.”
Secretary-General of the Federation, Mr Yusuf Kabir, reiterated the readiness of the federation to host the event.
“All the logistics are already in place to ensure we had a smooth event. Having organized three top competitions in the past five months, we are confident that this event will be as thrilling as its immediate predecessors,” He enthused.
The national youth taekwondo championships will be a two-day event feature the world taekwondo ten male and ten female weight categories. Electronic scoring systems will be used in addition to medals and certificates issued to eventual winners.