Beijing Olympics bronze medalist, Chika Chukwumerije, has called on the private sector to financially support taekwondo in discovering, engaging, encouraging and exposing upcoming athletes.
Speaking on the backdrop of the three bronze medals won by the five-man team that Nigeria at the Africa Senior Taekwondo Championships, held in Tunis, Tunisia a fortnight ago, Chukwumerije lauded the support the team got from Abuja-based Zuma Energy Nigeria Limited for taking the initiative to throw its weight behind the team to the tournament.
Members of the team included current African Games Gold Medallists, Uche Perez Chukwumerije and Jamilu Mohammed, three-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, African medallists Sunday Onofe and Joy Ekhator.
“The trip would not have been possible without the timely support of Zuma Energy and our other sponsors who would like to remain anonymous, so I am thankful to the Executive Chairman, Innocent Ezuma, who responded to the reach-out by my Foundation to the private sector for support”
Undefeated Nationally for the past six years, two-time All African Games Medallist, Miss Joy Ekhator, who won a Bronze Medal at the tournament commended CCSF for pushing the initiative to source funds for the trip, and thanked Zuma Energy Nigeria Ltd for being one of the co-sponsors of the trip. “
“Without the efforts made, I would not have been able to come here and gain ranking points. I train very hard every day, but it is still difficult to go and compete against opponents that compete week in week out”
Current Defending All African Games Champion, Jamilu Muhammad, who crashed out in the Quarterfinals was more direct, “No Money, No Medals”. I have not competed internationally since the last All African Games, even though I am constantly training, thus I was a bit match rusty.
The Kano-state born Taekwondoist enthusiast further reflected, “I am Number 46 in the world, and I sometimes wonder what my ranking would be if I could compete more? I am grateful that I competed at this event. It has enabled me see the opposition for next year’s All African Games, and I would use the experience gained to teach other young Taekwondo upcoming athletes when I get back to Kano”.
Pointing at a good example laid, the CCSF Boss, Chika Chukwumerije, urged the private sector to take the cue of Zuma Energy Ltd in providing the kind of sustained support that would “give life to the real dreams of millions of Nigerian Sportsmen and Women across the country, especially when they have clear operational plans and genuine medal-winning possibilities in the foreseeable future”.
“Athletes are very visible, and can serve, not only as a source of inspiration to our future generation, but also as a deep spring of pride for the Nation. They deserve to be supported by the business community”
“The recent performances of Okagbare recently, the victories of the Super Eagles at the last Nation’s Cup, the last U-17 World Cup winners, and the exploits of our weightlifter Usman at the last Commonwealth are some examples of sporting feats that provide hope to young people, and bring smiles to millions of Nigerians”
Chukwumerije urged the private sector to invest in communities in which they operate all over Nigeria, as “investing now would give Nigeria an edge in the Commonwealth this year, All African Games next year and at the RIO 2016 Olympics”
“Everybody loves a winner, and companies can leverage on potential Olympic Gold Medals to be won by Nigeria’s talented athletes by investing in their training and exposure now.”