Former Olympic Medalist Calls For Equal Funding Of All Sports In Nigeria
By Emmanuel Johnson
Three-time Olympian, Chika Chukwumerije, has thrown his weight behind the funding given to Football but advocates for more funding for other sports as he urges the Ministry to shift its focus to first qualifying the sports for the Olympics before turning it to preparing for the Olympics itself.
The Operations guru, who is the Technical Director of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, made this known in a radio interview with Radio Nigeria Yesterday, where he was first pressed on his feelings about ‘Taekwondo’ and other sports being referred to as ‘lesser sports.’
“If someone refers to you as lesser and you do not like it, then you do something about it. Football has the largest fan base in the world, as such, they have a lot of funding so we lesser sports quote and unquote needs to improve our brand image to a level where the number one sport in the country become number two because you have won over more fans and participants, including sponsors and sports administrators. For instance, if you go to a country like Japan, baseball certainly tops football. In the USA, Basketball and Baseball is more popular than soccer. So, I guess that if we do not like the lesser sports tag, then we [the lesser sports federations] needs to keep repositioning and re-branding to the extent where football will in the future be referred as a lesser sport in Nigeria”
The Mechanical Engineering graduate advocated for targeted funding for federation based on the performance of the Federation at various levels – grassroots, national and international, especially if the federation is showing a lot of promise.
“Sports like Taekwondo, Table Tennis are doing well. If not supported, they will not go very far. They have shown a lot of sports administrative depth and that they can scout and develop sporting talents and host good events. Fund them and the results over the next 5 years would be incredible.”
NTF have massively re-branded their events in the past two years.
The Beijing 2008 Olympic Bronze medalist highlighted the three sources of funding that a Federation can get funding.
“There are internally generated funds through collecting dues, organizing events and many other things. There are also externally generated resources that depends on the government, private sector and individuals. Government on its own needs to fund federations more even as the federations can reach out to the private sector and to individuals. For the private sector, the government can assist the federations by putting in place policies that can encourage private section participation in sports development i.e. tax incentives, mandatory tax on company profits etc.”
The Olympian gave an example with the big deals signed with Chinese and Korean companies.
“The University of Transportation will be built by China as part of a concession while huge train and other infrastructure deals were being put in place. Why could we not have put a deal for Table Tennis, Badminton, Kungfu and two other sports into the deal for the Chinese to build infrastructure for these sports and support human resource development”
“The Koreans have enjoyed a lot the publicity of Taekwondo events in Nigeria, yet their contributions to development of Taekwondo infrastructure in Nigeria is Zero. Is it possible to negotiate better with striking deals with the Korean government and Korean companies in Nigeria, to make it a win-win situation?” the Olympian rhetorically concluded.”
President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, Margaret E Binga, and Technical Director Engr. Chika Chukwumerije with South Korean Deputy Ambassador and Director of the Korean Cultural Centre Abuja.
Chukwumerije regretted that football failed to qualify for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics but said it is important that attention is shifted to other sports that can qualify for the Olympics.
“It is very heartbreaking that football did not qualify because millions of Nigeria love watching the national team. But since it is now a reality that we have not qualified, we must shift our attention to other sports that can qualify and fund them properly so they can perform optimally
Currently, there are about 42 different sport Federations in Nigeria so if each and every one of the Federations is adequately funded, then results that will benefits the country will be more compared to when funding is restricted to just few of its many Federations that are existing.