The Chika Chukwumerije Sports Foundation's (CCSF) 2015 programme has begun with the launch of its "Inspire the Zones" initiative in Gusau, the capital of Nigeria's Zamfara state.
Carried out in partnership with Board Members of the Nigeria Taekwondo Federation, the aim of the programme is to inspire, discover and educate young, upcoming and current taekwondo athletes from the region.
The first leg of a six-part journey, that involves all six geopolitical zones in the country, saw 65 participants from the north-western areas of Sokoto, Kebbi, Kaduna and Zamfara take part in a workshop.
The CCSF, a Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO) dedicated to the empowerment of youths through the taekwondo, is headed by three-time Olympian Chika Chukwumerije, who won a bronze medal in the over 80 kilogram category at Beijing 2008.
"I have always insisted that inspiration always wins medals, if you give it time," said Chukwumerije.
"You sow that seed now in that mind, and watch it positively grow over the years."
Borno-state born Abubakar Isah Adamu, 17, winner of a gold medal in the men's junior under-59kg class at the 2014 Commonwealth Taekwondo Championships in Edinburgh, was part of the CCSF entourage having first taken part in the programme when he was 13-years-old.
"At the time, he could barely speak English," said Chukwumerije.
"Four years later, he speaks English, has won a couple of national tournaments, has won a gold at the Commonwealth Championships and is one of the brightest prospects for Nigeria Taekwondo.
"The athletes here have been inspired just watching him."
NTF Board Member of the region and state host, Alhaji Mohammed Garba, added: "I am so excited by this wonderful programme.
"Most of these athletes have never seen all these equipment that CCSF brought to Zamfara, or done the exercises they did together.
"They have trained with a three-time Olympian they see only on TV, and a Commonwealth gold medallist.
"There is a rejuvenation amongst the athletes in this region".
In addition to the programme, free equipment in the form of imported taekwondo uniforms, kicking pads and exercise books were given to some of the participants.
One of the participants, hand-made bag maker Bilhatu Adamu from Zamfara, grabbed the attention of the CCSF and was given a free ticket to the 2015 CCSF Taekwondo Open, due to be held in Nigerian capital Abuja on October 23 and 24, to showcase and merchandise her product.
"I am very grateful to CCSF for giving me this economic opportunity, at no cost," said Adamu.
The next leg of the "Inspire the Zones" initiative is due to be held in Benue state on March 7.
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