By Gabriel Ewepu & Fortune Eromosele
ABUJA — THE Badminton Federation of Nigeria, BFN, Tuesday, disclosed its qualification for the first time in 12 years to participate in 2020 Olympics in Tokyo, Japan.
The President of the BFN, Francis Orbih, made this known at the presentation of 80 badminton rackets to the Federation by the Japanese Ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, in Abuja.
Orbih who acknowledged the gesture expressed appreciation for the support from Japan said the federation is impressed and spurred up to go for gold at the Olympics.
He also said history has been made for the first time, as Nigeria will be playing in the men’s doubles at the Olympics in badminton.
He said: “For us in the BFN it is the best time to partner with Japan, we are dominating the game, we want to learn from them, we want to be able to rise in the game of badminton in the world. For us at the federation it is an honor to receive these 80 badminton rackets, which signifies partnership.”
“For the past 12 years, Nigeria has not gone to the Olympics. We have not been able to qualify to play badminton. Now we have qualified at the time Japan is dominating the game and at the time they are hosting the Olympics.
“It is pointing to the fact that Japan is coming at this time to play a very critical role to the development of badminton in Nigeria and we appreciate it.”
However, he (Orbih) urged the Japanese Government to institute a ‘Japanese Ambassador’s Championship’ in Abuja, as a way of strengthen Japan-Nigeria diplomatic tie.
Responding, the Ambassador of Japan to Nigeria, H.E Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, expressed joy as Nigeria qualified for the games and her participation in other sports as well.
Kazuyoshi also assured that Japan will ensure strong support for the team’s preparation and participation at the Olympics.
“As you are aware, Japan is hosting the Olympic and Paralympic Games and now only one month to go. I am really glad that Nigeria, the biggest country in Africa, is going to participate.
“Of course, most exciting is the participation of Nigeria’s badminton players, in the Men’s doubles and Women’s singles. Our desire is to support your team going to the Olympic Games in Japan, ensuring an effective and successful participation in all.
“As a diplomat, I have been involved in economic Promotion, development cooperation, and refugee assistance.
“However, I believe that sports diplomacy is also important. Sports can make history, as the economy can. The economy is important to the growth of a country, but Sports are also essential for promoting the people-to-people connection.
“Sports are common languages understood by all people in the world. Sports are more than just the games. Sports have the power to unite people from all over the World”, Kazuyoshi.
Speaking in the same vein, President Nigerian Olympic Committee, NOC, Habu Ahmed Gumel, expressed appreciation to the Japanese government for the donation, stating that it shows togetherness.
“The Japanese government deemed it fit to support us in this area of sports. This is wonderful because it comes at a time where Nigeria qualifies for the badminton Olympic competition for the first time and we are grateful for this kind gesture”, Gumel added.