By; Musa Kutama, Calabar.
The President, Taekwondo Federation of Nigeria, Grand Master George Ashiru, has appealed to the Federal Government to grant ten per cent tax rebate to encourage private-sector sponsorship of sports in Nigeria.
He made the call in an interview with journalists at the 1st Calabar Open Taekwondo Championship in Calabar.
Ashiru who also commended the hosts of the championship jointly sponsored by Royal International Farms and Estates Limited, a privately-owned company, said that the sponsors required fitting environment to thrive.
He urged the national assembly to enact laws that would offer ten per cent tax rebate to individuals, private and corporate organisations that sponsor sports in Nigeria.
“There is need for the private sector to be involved in the sponsorship of sports because government alone cannot foot the bills of various sporting federations.
“I bet you, that most of multinationals will prefer to back sports if they are assured of a rebate of no less than 10 per cent in taxes. Surely they will also benefit from the discount.
“Through such sponsorship our youths will be employed, lured away from vice-breeding idleness and encouraged to participate in potential medal-winning sports like taekwondo,’’ he said
He said the dearth of medals for Nigerian contingents to the Olympic Games was due to lack of continuity in sports administration and proper planning.
Ashiru said the Taekwondo Federation had already earmarked four centres of excellence for the development of the game in Nigeria.
He said that two other taekwondo centres of excellence were being planned for the South-South and South-East geopolitical zones to stimulate more interest in the sport.
Ashiru said the Taekwondo Federation in Nigeria was formed in 1986 and inaugurated in 1987.
Ima Onoko, the Managing Director of First Royal Microfinance Bank, one of the joint sponsors of the championship also told New Nigerian Sports in a separate interview that they were sponsoring the sports in line with the bank’s corporate social responsibility.
She also appealed to the Taekwondo Federation to locate one of its proposed centres of excellence in Calabar because of the abundance of talents in the area.
“We have come to understand that the resources sunk into the sponsorship is not a waste but an instrument for boosting human capital development and social growth which is worth the while”.
Similarly, Usen Umoh, the Managing Director of Royal International Farms and Estates Limited, said 116 taekwondists drawn from 14 states of Nigeria participated in the 3-day championship.
He said he was “very excited and satisfied’’ with the level of participation including the Police and the Nigeria Civil Defense Corp who fielded contingents in the male and female categories of the championship.
Medals on offer included the flyweight, bantamweight, welterweight and the middleweight categories.
There were price money for those who won gold, silver and bronze medals respectively.