Taekwondo: COVID-19 Forces Early Closure of National Referee Course
By Domodo Tuye
The COVID-19 global pandemic claimed another casualty after the Taekwondo Federation had to cut short the national referee refresher and certification course, which was taking place at the National Stadium, Surulere Lagos.
The event which commenced on 16th March and was to last to 20th March 2020, was attended by 35 national referees who arrived from 11 states including Lagos, FCT, Borno, Kwara, Osun, Bauchi, Bayelsa, Ondo, Rivers, Enugu, Cross Rivers and referees from the Nigeria Police.
President of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Binga, directed for the immediate fast tracking of the referee course following the postponement of the National Sports Festival and the decision of the Federal Ministry of Youths and Sports to cancel all national and international sporting activities.
Participants lauded the decision of the NTF President, Mrs Margaret Elizabeth Binga, to move up scheduled activities to the event was concluded in two days, instead of the four days.
For first-timer referee, Stephanie John of Borno state, health and safety should always be first.
“Honestly, I learnt so much in just two days. I was a former athlete and doing this course opened my eyes to the world of refereeing. I am sad it was curtailed from four days to two days, but health and safety must always be first.”
For old-timer Referee, Kazeem Bamidele of Lagos, the postponement is really costing a lot to sports people but it is for the best.
“The postponement of the Festival and other major events comes at a real loss to the sports family in Nigeria who have been working so hard for this. We were hoping to apply all we have practiced here at the Festival, but it is not to be. Nonetheless, it is all for the better. We hope this COVID-19 pandemic goes away very soon.
NTF President, Margaret Binga, praised participants for their good conduct and regretted the necessity of cutting short the event.
“Participants at this course impressed me so much with their attentiveness and performance in all the sessions. It is a pity we had to fast track the event. But leadership must always be responsible, so it was necessary to join the world in combating their COVID-19 by first taking necessary precautions. We will also be cancelling all our scheduled events until further notice.”
Binga, who is a Class 2 World Taekwondo International Referee also welcomed the five persons who were attended a referee certification course for the first time.
“Our target is to have 100 referees in our database by the end of the first tenure. We set the target in 2017. As of today, there are 71 referees on our database from across the six geo-political zones, so our training and development of referees is going very well.”
Twenty national referees were poised to officiate at the postponed Edo 2020 National Sports Festival. President Muhammadu Buhari has approved the postponement of Nigeria’s most prestigious sporting event due to the COVIC-19 pandemic ravaging the globe.
As of 19 March 2020, there were eight confirmed cases of the COVID-19 in Nigeria, with seven in Lagos and one in Ekiti state.
Nigeria has restricted entry into Nigeria for travellers from high incidence countries including China, Italy, Iran, Norway, South Korea, Spain, Japan, France, Germany, United States of America, United Kingdom, Netherlands & Switzerland.