New dawn for Nigeria Taekwondo

By Ikenna Okonkwo on 06/01/2018

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There appears to be real change sweeping across the length and breadth of Nigeria Taekwondo since the past four months after years of near comatose occasioned by lack of practical and proactive sporting programmes.

The dwindling fortunes of Taekwondo in a country where majority of young People have remained unengaged climaxed woefully and turned soar in the mouth of many, when no singular Taekwondo Athlete qualified for 2016 Rio Olympics. The downward trend and indeed the obvious handwriting on the wall was clear much earlier following not-too-impressive performance of Nigerian Taekwondo fighters at 2015 African games.

At some points, Stakeholders within the corridors of Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF) kept pondering on the possible way out amidst leadership Imbroglio which set the board led by George Ashiru apart. The inactivity coupled with lone-ranger approach towards the development of Taekwondo didn’t help matters either.

Before then, Nigerian Taekwondo athletes were winning medals at all international events including African Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.

For the greater part of the immediate past NTF administration, harmonious co-existence was found wanting. Gradually, things went awry the more. A quick intervention geared towards rescuing the sport triggered impeachment of the former President but the move was later put on hold by the powers that be in the Ministry of Youth and Sports till the general election of all sporting federations sometimes in June, 2017.

That election brought to an end the previous administration and meritoriously ushered in an era of fresh breath in the Nigeria Taekwondo which was once governed by renowned World Taekwondo Man, Dr Jonathan Nnaji.

Like any good thing that experiences rough edge before it eventually comes true, the long expected new board of NTF with fresh hope and vigour emerged. Their inauguration was delayed but the realities of the things to come are already sprouting.

Led by the first ever female President, Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Binga, the new NTF board with arguably the best hands and experienced Taekwondo Practitioners went straight to work. Upon their installation which happened barely one month after every other federation was sworn-in, officials of the Nigeria Taekwondo federation had their hands full. Immediately, they went into action with organisation of Taekwondo competition for Under-17 athletes at the 2017 National Youth Games at the University of Ilorin, Kwara state in September. The quality of organisation by the newly inaugurated NTF board was adjudged one of the best among other over 15 sporting events at the youth games.

Despite repeated overtures, they resisted and drastic ally stood against age-cheat which use to be the bane at such age-grade competition. Even Referees, coaches, Athletes amongst others applauded the outcome of the exercise.

Back from Ilorin, Binga-led board locked themselves in a meeting to thinker best ways of reviving taekwondo in Nigeria. The result of intense discussion among these like minds gave birth to packs of developmental programmes which began with robust training of Coaches in all parts of the states across the country within the last quarter of 2017. It was the very first of its kind since 1987 when NTF then known as Taekwondo Association of Nigeria was established.

The teaching train of the federation anchored by its technical team kick-started in faraway Maiduguri, Borno state capital before it moved to Abakaliki, Ebonyi state. Makurdi, capital of Benue state hosted the north-central version of the ongoing training course which has been attended by no fewer than 150 participants so far. North-west, south-west and South-south geo-political regions are still on the line. And according to well-articulated calendar of the federation which has received approval of the entire congress of the Nigeria taekwondo family during 2017 annual general congress, the remaining zones will take their turn in 2018.

Plans by the NTF board didn’t not only give attention to coaches’ training, it also rolled out timely National competitions for athletes and intensive-globally acceptable trainings for established and upcoming Referees in December. First, it was Korean Ambassador’s championship, followed by first-ever Nigeria Taekwondo Open tournament attended by hundreds of athletes from within and outside the country. There was also a Grand National merit award for outstanding Nigerians who have distinguished themselves in various ways in the practice of Taekwondo in the past years.

The schedule of activities for the coming year signals much bigger plans for Taekwondo in the most populous African Nation to regain its pride of place. From early January, a national trial and camping for Junior and senior athletes respectively have been lined up.

Amazed by the achievements churned out in less than four months, Dr (Mrs) Patience Anyanwu who has been on the board of other federation before joining NTF captured it this way; “I haven’t seen what I’m experiencing elsewhere in this federation where I’m currently.

“The programmes of the current NTF Board is just taking place as if they have been planned many years ago. Really, I’m very proud to be associated with the high calibre of Person administering the activities of this federation.”

While the accolades keep pouring in, the current NTF leadership must not lose sight of greater works ahead. For instance, embarking on vigorous image laundering and reputation management is key to driving needed sponsorship which will assist in carrying out its programmes.

On the other hand, the Ministry of Youth and Sports development as the supervising body should not leave Taekwondo cashless. Releasing funds beyond just approving their budget will add more impetus to the federation which has become more viable than most sporting associations in the Nation.

 

Source Whirlwindnews

Posted on January, 6 2018

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