Over 24 states are interested in participating at the first ever National Junior Taekwondo Championships, which will take place between May 16 and 17, 2018 in FCT, Abuja.
According to Chika Chukwumerije, the Technical Director, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation; the event is aimed at capturing and ranking the current youth Taekwondo athletes across the country.
He disclosed that the eventual winners would represent the country at the African Youth Games (AYG) in Algeria.
Kano state coach, Ibrahim Yahuze has a different take: “You are conducting a national championship at a time when the Holy Muslim’s month of Ramadan will be starting”.
“You must have a rethink by rescheduling the championship except if you do not want Muslims taekwondo athletes to participate. Can you conduct any national program on Christmas day or any other religiously important date”?
In a swift reaction, the office of the NTF drew the attention of coach Yahuze to 2013 where he and two other athletes participated in the World Taekwondo Championships in Puebla, Mexico.
“Our archives show that you were our NTF National Coach to the 2013 World Championships as highlighted above. At the time, you did not make the kind of divisive statement you are making now but rather, you totally embraced the event and fully participated without any qualms”, it said.
“Your actions and full participation at the time shows that you are fully aware that sporting calendars are bereft of race, religion or politics. In line with international practice, our NTF events will try as much as possible to ensure event logistics makes things easier in this important month for our Muslim practitioners”.
“With regards to this particular event, there is a deadline for registering our athletes for the African Youth Games. In a clean break from the past, the current NTF has resolved to make invitations to national camps on the basis of fair selection, transparency and accountability. Or would you rather we adopt the method of unilateral selection into national youth camps”?
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 our inconsistency in producing elite athletes”.
“This is why we win Olympic medals every 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 are 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.”
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.