(Xinhua) -- Niger has again
demonstrated its prowess in taekwondo after winning a silver
medal in the men’s over-80 kilogram taekwondo in the just
concluded Rio Olympics, but its pool of young talents, however,
is facing a lack of state support.
The silver medal won
by Abdoulrazak Issoufou Alfaga, 21, was the country’s second
Olympics medal after the medal won by boxer Issaka Dabore during
the 1972 Munich Games.
Taekwondo that has helped to cement the country’s name in the
Olympic history, is however one of the least supported games in
The sport, initially not practised by many Nigeriens, began
to gain popularity from 1983 after the arrival of a South Korean
professional, Master Show Young.
Today, taekwondo clubs are scattered all over Niger. In the
capital Niamey alone, there are about 100 clubs, with the most
popular one being "Club Show" that was named after the taekwondo
pioneer in Niger.
Despite the growing number of youths interested in playing
taekwondo, sports’ enthusiasts continued to criticize the
government’s negligible support.
The government’s support is limited to sending contestants to
major competitions and tournaments, and the national federation
received little support from the Nigerien Sports Committee (COSNI),
In the opinion of professional taekwondo players in Niger,
"those who dream of getting expert training outside the country
so that they can become great stars in the game, should only
count on their own efforts."
So when COSNI negotiated for a scholarship for the young
Issoufou Alfaga to go for training in Germany in preparation for
the Rio Games, he did not hesitate to take up the chance.
However, the player and COSNI have been left with a bill of
95,000 euros for the training undertaken at the Taekwondo
Competence Center (TCC) in Friedrichshafen, near Munich.
According to Chamsou Tidjani, a black belt and a national and
international taekwondo champion, several of his friends sent
for training outside the country always return to the country
sooner due to lack of funding.
It is also common for Nigeriens to participate in
international taekwondo competitions on behalf of their country,
using their own resources.
That was the case with the young Chamsou, who recently
represented his country in a global competition in Benin,
without getting financial support from his country.
"I won the competition against nine other countries including
Nigeria that had five teams, yet I did not even eat on the day
of the competition and I did not have money," he complained.
"This deplorable situation is the daily treatment that many
of our fighters participating in international taekwondo
competitions on behalf of Niger are subjected to," the national
taekwondo coach, Tidjani said.
This situation continues despite the fact that the country is
the envy of many in the sub-region and the continent in the
Niger won a silver medal in the first Ouagadougou
international tour held in 2011, won the taekwondo medal during
the 2015 All African Games and was victorious during
competitions this year in Egypt and Belgium.
With the latest silver medal won by Alfaga, Niger improved
its general ranking during the Rio 2016 games, coming at
position 69 globally.
On the African continent, Niger claimed the sixth position
behind great sporting nations like Kenya, South Africa and
Following the Rio 2016 Games, Niger President Mahamadou
Issoufou expressed satisfaction with Alfaga’s performance and
promised to support the promotion of taekwondo in the country.
According to him, Alfaga’s victory should be an inspiration
to all Nigerien youths.
He instructed government ministries to continue supporting
Alfaga so that he can reinforce his capacities to win a gold
medal in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.