The Republic Korea Ambassador to Nigeria, Lee In Tae, has called for more development of Taekwondo to foster mutual relationships between his country and Nigeria.
Tae made the call at the finals of the 10th Korean Ambassador’s Taekwondo Championships held at the Molade Okoya Thomas Hall, Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos on Friday.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the two-day event had over 150 athletes participating.
The Ambassador noted that Taewondo had grown to a sport loved by Nigerians, adding that he was proud to see the popularity swell in Nigeria.
“As you know, Taekwondo is a traditional Korean martial art loved by many people around the world. Not only does Taekwondo enhance your physical strength, it also disciplines your mind and soul.
“Taekwondo encourages competition, but at the same time teaches us fairness and respect. These aspects helped Taekwondo become a global sport. And now, thanks to people, I am proud to see the popularity of Taekwondo grow in Nigeria.
“The Ambassador’s Championship is part of our efforts to promote Taekwondo in Nigeria. It also aims to help Nigerian athletes to improve their skills so that they can compete on the global stage.
“Taekwondo has helped strengthen mutual relationships between Korea and Nigeria. As more Nigerians practice Taekwondo, more Nigerians are eager to study the Korean culture, the same goes to the Koreans,” he said.
Tae said that the ministry was at work in introducing Taekwondo to the grassroots which would engender more inculcation of Korean culture into the young ones.
“We have been introducing Taekwondo to numerous primary and secondary schools in the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), so that Nigerian children will have a chance to learn more about Korea.
“Likewise, the Korean Cultural Centre is teaching Taekwondo to the general public, as part of their efforts to spread the charms of Korean culture.
“We will carry on with these efforts so that Taekwondo will continue to be the bridge of friendship and unity between the Koreans and Nigerians.
“This year, 18 members were dispatched from the World Taekwondo Headquarters. They are on tour of Africa and Nigeria is their last stop. I am sure that they have reserved their best performance for Nigeria to enjoy. I would have joined if I were younger,” he said.
The Technical Adviser, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation (NTF), Chika Chukwumerije, said the rapid growth and appreciation of Taekwondo in Nigeria was due to the reforms embarked upon by the federation.
“Taekwondo is one of the fastest growing sports in Nigeria right now because many are willing to be part of it.
“This is made possible through concerted efforts of the officials at the federation through various reforms and reorganisations.
“Before we came on board, the federation did not have any website or database, neither does it have any social media platform, but right now, we have a functional website.
“Also, we have social media platforms where we engage our athletes on meaningful conversations. We also have a functional database now with which we keep track of all our activities and athletes,” he said.
Chukwumerije, an Olympian, rated the organisation and the competitiveness of the 10th Korean Ambassadors Cup high, adding that the competition had helped in discovering more talents.
“The competition is one of the ranking one for our athletes locally and it is quite interesting and competitive.
“Most of the athletes are keen on participating because they want to rake in more points which is good for us because it makes it more competitive.
“We have another tournament coming up in Kebbi State in January which will be the last before the Olympics qualifications,” he said.
NAN reports that Stanley Ogbonaya emerged champions in the -80kg of the male category, while Uzoamaka Otuadinma emerged champion of the -73kg female category.
Also there was an exhibition of the Kukkiwon, by the Korean delegates to the admiration of the spectators.
Dignitaries at the finals are the Ambassador of the Republic of Korea, Lee In Tae, Director of Kukkiwon, Park Jin Soo, the Director, Korean Cultural Centre, Lee Jin Sa.
Others are the Secretary to the Government of Lagos State, Folashade Jaji, the Chairman, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Kweku Tandoh and the Director-General, (LSSC), Oluwatoyin Gafar among others. (NAN)