By Amaechi Agbo
Delta State has emerged champions of the 1st National Junior Taekwondo Open Championships held at the indoor Hall, Package B National Stadium, Abuja.
To emerge champions, Delta state garnered 4 gold, 3 silver and 1 bronze making a total of 8 medals to beat their closest rivals, FCT Abuja who won 2 gold, 1 silver and 1 bronze, 4 medals in all. Benue state came 3rd with 1 gold and1 silver.
11 states including FCT took part in the two-day championship which held from May 16 to 17, 2018.
Speaking to journalists at the end of the championship, the President, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, (NTF) Elizabeth Binga, described the tournament as the future of Nigeria Taekwondo and called on the government to support sports development so as to keep the youths busy which would in turn ensure a peaceful society.
“The 1st Junior Taekwondo championship is our future and we thought it wise to harness them because if we don’t have a future, then we have no reason to live. With what we have seeing here, Nigeria has talents and potentials going forward. We have future and champions who will win laurels for the country in the future.
“That is why the board considered it a necessity that after 31 years of inactivity, we organized it to nurture them and from there, after the tournament, we will invite the best among them to camp in preparation for the African Youth Games in July. Overtime, they will be able to replace the aging ones.
“As we came on board and being an ex international, we had to identify where our problems are. Who are going to replace the aging legs, for how long are we going through pains to discover talents when they are just there and have not been given opportunities to showcase their potentials? So, we thought it wise to organize the first one and we hope to keep organizing more of this championship for them. With this development, we have athletes that will represent us not just at the African Youth Games but also at the cadet, youth and world level,” Binga said.
On how prepared are the federation to produce players that would challenge the North Africans, the president expressed optimism that with right foundation and preparations, Nigeria can beat any team. She therefore called for government support in providing the needed facilities for the sport.
“Every country aspires to be the best. Every country puts in whatever it feels is the best until the day comes. The North Africans are having a lot of support from their governments and corporate bodies. Therefore, I want to use this medium to call on the government to invest on the future of this country because if we really want to go into sports, we need to spend money. If we don’t spend money, then we cannot get results.
“We need a lot of tournaments; we need a lot of championships and exposure not only for the youths but also for the coaches and referees. If we have that, with what is happening in the North African countries, we will challenge them squarely. But we need exposure and championships so that the young ones can compete with them and if we must do that, then government’s input is needed.
“We need to have tournaments so that they will be able to exhibit their potentials. It is not about training all the time. The government needs to enact laws for multi-nationals to pay tax – sports taxes – because that is what is done in order countries that really know what sports is all about. Let multi-nationals come in and support sports. We have a lot of great people and richest men in the continent yet our sports are dying. Why cannot our government sit with these people to develop sports and youths in the country? Once we develop sports and the youths are engaged productively, we will have a peaceful society and a greater future for Nigeria.”