World class Referee instructor, Mrs Elizabeth Binga is the current and first ever female President, Nigeria Taekwondo Federation who has held sway for the past one year. At the end of a three-day training session for Taekwondo Referees before the ongoing Korea Ambassador Cup, she spoke to Blueprint weekend sports crew.
Gains of Referees training
I noticed that our Referees have really improved because of the measures we have taken to train them on regular basis since the inception of this administration last year. All the Referees that have been coming for refresher courses have been preparing for National Sports Festival. They are eager to learn.
We will still have another training session for them before the NSF. Last year we had 45 participants and this year, close to that number participated. Some People weren’t able to come due funding issues from their states. Knowledge is power and is key. If you don’t have that the information, you won’t know what is obtainable.
Secret to my Refereeing career
It’s been God all the way. I try as much as possible to attend course outside Nigeria. Anytime, there is new rules added, i make sure I go. I don’t just stay back and say it’s easy to download from computer. Yes, everybody is computer literate. Everybody can go to the computer and read it up. But it’s difference from reading and going there to be taught. And you are there, practising. You are being tortured and nurtured.
Aside going for training, I try to go for competitions. It’s difficult to get sponsors but it’s about planning. When you plan yourself, it takes a lot of personal sacrifice. And i thank God for the support from my family and my work place.
Factors that will distinguish Nigerian Taekwondo Referees
Like I said earlier, education which we are giving to them is key. Because we have about 25 international Referees after the period it was conducted. And after then, none of them was able to go out and refresh themselves. Back home here, they say they are international Referees
They are only privileged to have us who are training them, pour back or out the things we learnt. As a board, we are trying to encourage them to go out there and mount the challenges. The more Referees you have, the better for Athletes development. All over the world, coaches are allowed to take part during Referees training. It makes the job easier for me. Most of these Referees are coaches too. By doing that, Athletes are guided.
When any of them goes back, it’s easier for them to impact same knowledge to others. Aside from financial poverty, there is also mind poverty. What we are doing as a board is to make sure that we give all equal. Most of our Referees here in Nigeria are even better than other in African countries. Just because they are committed by making personal sacrifice, they are seen everywhere.
Referees need to make personal sacrifices, they don’t need to wait. It’s difficult for someone to notice your efforts if you seat at a place.
Import of Korean Ambassadors Cup
I’m looking out for the best of talents. Next African Games is less than one year. Preparation is meant to have started but due to our peculiar situation in Nigeria, we make do with what we can lay hands on. We try as much as we can to organise championships domestically. Korean Embassy with Korea Ambassadors Cup has come a long way as one of our oldest sponsors over the years. We are thankful to them and grateful. But they can still do more because I know what they in other African countries. It’s not enough to give us championship. Today in Nigeria, we don’t have a national training centre for taekwondo athletes. And this sports, was initiated by Koreans. If they can help us put a structure on ground so that anywhere you come from, you will see a place to train. And some coaches will be there to train you and you go back.
‘Upcoming Nigeria int’l Open has triggered global attention to Nigeria’
When we came on board, we inherited nothing on ground. We had no equipment. Today, we are struggling to procure some of these latest technologies that are being used all over the world now. Today, as a board we proud to say we have a set of Gen 2 Daedo system which is what is being used in every top championship all over the world. That’s a plus for us in Nigeria, because our neighbouring countries don’t have it yet.
We are encouraging everybody that’s why we keep shouting, register for every competition we are organising so that when you have opportunity to travel and represent Nigeria as Athletes after getting enough rankings, the system won’t be new to you. Though it’s been difficult but we have trying the much we can to the ones we can do
Plea to sponsor
I use this opportunity to plead with those we written to, people we will still get to, to partner with us in other to invest and develop the youths. Once they are not engaged, they become endangered species. That’s why we have a lot of moral decadence in the society.
I also use this medium to urge the Ministry of Education to go back to the drawing board on what was obtainable to the 60’s and 70’s. Education without recreation won’t get positive result. One school is now divided into three or four schools, no more recreation ground. You can groom Athletes at the very tender age.
And we don’t even have competent game Masters again in schools. They just engage anyone they see and call him Game Master who has some little or no knowledge of the game. Gone are the days when competent Games Masters are employed. People that read Human Kinetics are walking on the streets, doing nothing. So if the Education ministry can seat down with Ministry of Youth and Sport, we will have a better sports architecture in Nigeria.
More partnership opportunities
Gone are the days that every national team we see, has high level of discipline and commitment because 70% 80% of athletes comprise of military or Para-military men. They go there, its business not pleasure. You know you want to win medals. When you come back, you will be honoured and promoted. A lot of us have benefitted from the system then. People, then don’t go for jamboree when they are out for competition.
So I encourage and we are still talking, that all military and Para-Military agencies or department should embrace sports. Because if you have sports Men, they are playing dual role, aside performing the core mandate or function in which they are enlisted, they are dual Ambassadors. And a healthy body carries out healthy function.
The transformation of Nigeria Taekwondo Open within one year
Getting the Nigeria Open to be ranked as G-1 tournament is a pleasant one. We got this because of how visble we are. They have been monitoring our progress since our inauguration. Most of us are ex-internationals. We are all practitioners. We have seen and conquered as Athletes. What else do you expect? The job we are doing is not alien to us. Now, we saddled with the responsibility to serve the international community.
We are committed to bring the best back home. The main thing is for us to put our heads together and do the right things. The cost of sending or taking Athletes to international tournament such as Nigeria international taekwondo open. It’s a huge success that we have this in Nigeria after over 30 years. For us, it’s a plus. It’s an opportunity for Nigerians to queue into it.
The success of this will determine other good things that will come to the country; it’s a win, win situation for everybody.