Japan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, 5th from right, President, Nigeria Olympic Committee, (NOC), Engr. Habu Gumel, 6th from right, Caretaker Chairman, Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Mr. Francis Orbih, 4th from right with other officials after the presentation. (Photos: Anthony Maliki)
By Anthony Maliki
The bond between Japan and Nigeria was further rekindled on Tuesday in Abuja with the donation of 80 badminton rackets to the Badminton Federation of Nigeria (BFN) by the Nippon Badminton Association.
The occasion, at the Moshood Abiola Stadium, Abuja was graced by Japan Ambassador to Nigeria, Mr. Matsunaga Kazuyoshi who was attending his first public function as envoy since his assumption of duty a month ago.
Mr. Kazuyoshi said he was excited that Nigeria would be participating in badminton Men’s doubles and Women’s single at the Tokyo Olympic Games and desire to support the team in Japan to ensure an effective and successful participation.
Ambassador Matsunaga Kazuyoshi speaks at the occasion
According to him, as a diplomat he has been involved in economic promotion, development cooperation and refugee assistance but believes that sports diplomacy is also important.
He pointed out that Tokyo Olympic and Paralympic Games has a concept of unity in diversity which includes differences in gender, aga and nationality as well as differences in physical, mental and intellectual abilities.
Mr. Kazuyoshi saluted the feat of Ms. Eniola Bolaji as the first Nigerian and African to win a gold medal at the 2021 Spanish Para Badminton International Championship and look forward to seeing her at the World Para Badminton Championship in Japan by October.
The ambassador, officials and players in a group photograph
He said African para badminton is at a pointing point and admired the efforts and support by the Badminton Federation of Nigeria to achieve this historic feat.
The ambassador expressed sadness over the death of African Para badminton champion, Mr. Bello Rafiu Oyebanji and condoled the family and the Badminton Federation of Nigeria over the loss.
In his remarks, the President of the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC), Engr. Habu Gumel expressed gratitude for the donation pointing out that there are a lot of areas of collaboration.
He acknowledged the wonderful work in planning and infrastructure that Japan has put in place for the hosting of the Olympic Games.
The rackets on display
Engr. Gumel also praised the BFN for the progress they had made at improving the game.
The Caretaker chairman of the Badminton Federation of Nigeria, Mr. Francis Orbih noted that this is the right time to partner with Japan to improve on the game in Nigeria.
According to him, the donation of the rackets was not a coincidence as Japan is now a power house in world badminton and help uplift the performance of Nigeria in the game.
Mr. Orbih called for the organization of a yearly badminton tournament in Nigeria by the Japan Embassy in order to better improve the sport and unravel talents.
The caretaker chairman was also excited that in 12 years, this is the first time Nigeria has qualified for the badminton event for the Olympics.
Highlights of the event was a novelty match between Ambassador Mr. Kazuyoshi and Mr. Orbih as well as presentation of the rackets.