More than 100 athletes from 24 states are expected to participate in Nigeria’s first ever National Junior Taekwondo Championships.
The event, which is being organised by the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, is scheduled on hold May 16 and 17 in Abuja, the nation’s capital.
It aims to capture and rank the current youth taekwondo athletes while it discovers in-form young athletes and upcoming talents that would represent the country at the African Youth Games in Algeria.
According to the technical director and a three-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, Nigeria Taekwondo is currently at difficult crossroads because of the lack of investment in the sport for the youth.
“Since its inauguration 40 years ago, the federation has never held youth-level championships, thus ensuring our inconsistency in produce elite athletes,” he said.
“This is why we win Olympic medals over 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.”
Chukwumerije further explained why the event would also be used to invite youth athletes to national youth camp.
He said it was fair that a transparent, effective and accountable method was used to extend invitations to youth camp, adding that the tournament removed all sentiments and ensured the initial selection were based on merit and current form.
Quizzed on why the venue was changed from Owerri in Imo to Abuja, the Chairman of the Technical Committee, Mr Sani Lawal, highlighted the uncertainty of the hosts.
He said, “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.
“In 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.”
On his part, Secretary-General of the Federation, Mr Yusuf Kabir, reiterated the readiness of the federation to host the tournament, saying all the logistics have been put in place to ensure a smooth event.
The National Youth Taekwondo Championships will feature the World Taekwondo 10 male and 10 female weight categories.
The electronic scoring systems would be used in addition to medals and certificates issued to winners.