The organising committee has confirmed that the 2016 edition of the Korean Ambassador Cup will commence from Friday, December 8 to 10.
The organisers also announced that over 300 participants from the 36 states of the federation and friendly West African coast will be available to compete for honours in different weight categories, for the sparring (kyorugi and the forms (poomsaes).
The Chairman of the Main Organising Committee, who also doubles as the President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, Grandmaster George Ashiru, said the annual event sponsored by the Korean Cultural centre ‘with their other chosen partners’ is geared towards enhancing sports development and bilateral relations between Nigeria and South Korea.
He believes that in the absence of the National Sports Festival, the 2016 edition will provide an opportunity for the federation to raise a new national team for 2017 which is a world championship year.
According to information made available from the Secretariat of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, about 300 athletes made up of 50 teams have already arrived in Lagos for the competition set to kick off on Friday.
He said: “300 athletes with about 150 accompanying officials have already landed in Lagos and ready for the 2016 edition of the Korean Ambassador Cup.
“Ghana have already sent in three separate teams from three different provinces, Niger have sent in another set of athletes while Togo are reported to have their athletes on the road.
“But, we won’t count them as part of the competition until they arrive in Lagos.
“We do know that many states, the Armed forces and other para-military units as well as elite clubs are seriously gearing up to be for this event to ensure that their athletes are nationally ranked in preparation for a busy season in 2017”.
Apart from individual awards for participating athletes at the end of the competition, there will be a presentation of awards from the Korean Ambassador to former President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, Chief Olusegun Obasanjo, Minister of Youth and Sports, Barrister Solomon Dalung, former Chief of Army staff, Lt. General Inuwa Wushishi (rtd) and other Nigerians for their immense contributions to Taekwondo development.
Representatives of the governments of Nigeria and Spain witnessed the landmark signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for a five-year technical and commercial partnership between the League Management Company of Nigeria (LMC) and the Spanish League Board (LFP).
Chairman of the LMC, Shehu Dikko, singed for the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) while the President of LaLiga, Javier Tebas signed for the Spanish League, with Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, and the Spanish Ambassador to Nigeria, Alfonso Barnuevo Sebastian de Erice, counter- signing as witnesses for their respective national leagues.
A New Page In History
Highlighting the long standing sporting relationship between the two leagues was the presence of some former Nigerian international players who at some stages in the past played for La Liga clubs – Victor Ikpeba, who played for Real Betis, Mutui Adepoju, who played for Racing Santander and Real Sociedad, Gbenga Okunowo and Haruna Babangida, both of whom played for Barcelona clubs.
While Dalung described the relationship as “a new page in the history of football administration in Nigeria, Banuevo offered assurances that the partnership would produce “a win-win outcome” for both Nigeria and Spain.
For Dikko, the LMC chairman, the NPFL and La Liga partnership marks the beginning of “a journey through a new road hitherto not travelled in an effort to deliver on our mandate to improve the quality and fortunes of the football league in Nigeria along international best practices.”
“We are pleased to be leading reforms and to achieve that, we decided to align with global best practices by emulating those doing things well and right. We have a lot to learn and benefit from the La Liga and we believe that the La Liga also has some things to learn from us,” Dikko said.
The partnership agreement, which will run for five years will in the first instance focus on key areas of capacity development, training for coaches and club administrators; inter club exchanges and commercial activities including joint marketing.
“There is a fight for the heart and pocket of Nigerians to love and buy into our domestic football league and La Liga is ready to work with us on that.
“Stakeholders are already getting interested, as they have seen one of the best leagues in the world associating with us.
“This will help us move forward and many more good things will follow. We shall move from this point to a point where we will in turn begin to support other leagues in Africa,” the LMC Chairman stated.
Tebas said that the La Liga will through the partnership provide assistance to the NPFL in the areas of training of Coaches, club administrators and exchange of playing tours by La Liga and NPFL Clubs.
“For us at La Liga, if through this partnership, the NPFL is developed, it is of benefit for La Liga,” declared the Spanish League President.
He said: “We would also be assisting Nigerian players where possible to get chances to play for La Liga Clubs”.
Ambassador Barnuevo, who had earlier received officials of the LMC and the La Liga on Monday and further graced the signing ceremony, said he was pleased to witness the epoch making event.
“I know how Nigerians love football and I can tell you that in this relationship, Nigeria and Spain will win. We already have strong social and economic relations and this MOU will further strengthen our sporting ties. We take this relationship serious because the La Liga is one of the most important companies in Spain.”
Nigeria’s Youth and Sports Minister, who had also received officials of both leagues in his office on Monday, also expressed delight at the consummation of the agreement and gave assurances that the partnership would unbundle and open up platforms for the exchange of ideas to engage young Nigerians.
“It will transcend beyond football to other areas and while we shall be relying on the expertise of the La Liga to improve our league, we also have something to offer which will benefit La Liga.”
The signing of the partnership, he said, was ” a mark of confidence and trust in Nigeria football and we look forward to more robust engagement in future”.
Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, is set to honour all athletes that won different medals for the nation in various international sporting tournaments in 2015.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Solomon Dalung, confirmed that the President would host the athletes at the Presidential Villa in Abuja on Thursday, January 21.
Among those yet to be rewarded are the Golden Eaglets of 1985, who were promised houses for winning the maiden edition of the FIFA U-17 World Cup in China and the current FIFA U-17 world champions.
Others are the victorious national men’s Basketball team who won the 2015 FIBA Africa Basketball Championship in Tunisia, Team Nigeria at the Commonwealth Youth Games in Samoa, and World Scrabble Champion, Wellington Jighere.
In November last year, President Buhari assured the 1985 batch of Golden Eaglets that his administration would fulfill the promises made 30 years ago.
The promises were made during a reception held at Dodan Barracks with the players, in celebration of their outstanding victory.
In a statement on November 10 by a spokesman for the President, Mr Garba Shehu, Buhari said it had been brought to his attention that a directive which he gave to the state governments at the time had not been complied with.
“It is a pity that those promises were never fulfilled,” he said.
Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, has congratulated the national U-23 team for qualifying for next year’s Olympic Games.
Dalung has also ordered the immediate payment of all outstanding match bonuses and allowances owed the players and officials.
The Minister expressed displeasure that the players were being owed a backlog of allowances and bonuses since their last competition.
“This is an emergency problem we inherited and I have directed the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry and the Director General of the National Sports Commission to source for intervention funds to settle the players before the final game on Saturday.
“The players have done extremely well under the situation, moreover a workman deserves his pay.
“We don’t want negative stories on non-payment of players’ allowances which are capable of tarnishing the image of the country, so I have pleaded with the coaches and players to remain focused on their final game as all possible efforts are being put in by the Ministry to ensure that all outstanding bonuses and camp allowances are offset before Saturday,” the minister said.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Solomon Dalung, has congratulated the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos State Chapter, as they celebrate their 50th anniversary.
According to Mr Dalung, SWAN’s laudable achievements in the last 50 years was not only worthy of celebration but should also be imbibed by other professional bodies and unions.
The Lagos chapter of SWAN has lined up some activities to celebrate the group at 50 this week which include the Achievers’ Day, an event designed to appreciate SWAN patrons and friends and the investiture of the Lagos State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, as their Grand Patron.
The sports minister noted that SWAN’s contribution to sports development in Nigeria could not be quantified.
“For decades, SWAN has been informing, educating and entertaining Nigeria with brilliant sports stories, excellent documentaries, celebration of our best moments in sports and defending the rights of the oppressed in the sports industry,” he said.
Dalung, who said he was proud to be associated with SWAN, urged the body to not only continue its watchdog role, but assist President Muhammadu Buhari and other change agents in the All Progressives Congress’ government to fight corruption and other vices that had stopped Nigeria from achieving its potentials in sports.
“Education, entertainment and sports are the most important tools of providing escape from poverty for children from less privileged backgrounds. As at today, our sports industry is facing several challenges, the biggest is corruption which has become a behemoth in the industry.
“Sports journalists should take advantage of President Buhari’s determination to fight corruption and expose corrupt practices,” he said.
The minister appealed to sports writers that government’s efforts in fighting the rot in sports would be easier with their support and cooperation.
He urged SWAN to invest more in training and education of its members. “SWAN should report and celebrate more of its own and turn them to national and global icons,” Mr Dalung stressed.
The Minister of Youth and Sports, Mr Bolaji Abdullahi, has declared that rather being an asset to the nation, the Nigerian youths have become a major source of problem because of the poor level of education given to them.
Speaking at the Emerging Leader’s Forum on the final day of the 18th Nigerian Economic Summit in Abuja, Mr Abdullahi explained that he use to belong to the school of thought that sees the youth as the nation’s asset but that has since changed due to the poor quality of education.
“For the Nigerian youth to be relevant, they have to be educated, have the ability and understanding of issues, and be part of the political mainstream for them to have an impact in the nation’s drive for a new society” he stated.