In fulfillment of a promise it made in 2021, the government of Japan, on Wednesday, donated judo equipment to Lagos State Judo Association (LSJA).
At the presentation of the first set of equipment held at Mobolaji Johnson Sports Centre, Rowe Park, Yaba, the Japanese ambassador to Nigeria, Matsunaga Kazuyoshi, said his country is ready to improve judo’s profile in Nigeria, adding that Lagos, which he described as a sports loving state, will continue to benefit from the Japanese government’s gesture.
He commended chairman of the LSJA, Sheriff Hammed, whose vision and passion, he said, has brought vibrancy to judo in the state.
Kazuyoshi said the donation would be a continuous gesture to improve the fortune of the sport in the state.
“I am happy to be here because what we are doing today is to fulfill the promise I made on September 2021, when I promised to support the state with some equipment. Fortunately, when I went back to Japan, I was able to talk to an NGO in Japan who are eager to give judo equipment and this is just the first set of equipment.
We believe this will be a continuous partnership that will help to teach the athletes the virtues of respect, rule of law, discipline and diligent, which are part of democracy and economic development.
“Some of the things I know now were what I got from doing judo. So judo goes beyond sporting activity, but an art that can help to shape someone’s life,” he said.
He said the donation is also part of the sports diplomacy between Nigeria and Japan, while assuring the state of more support to other sports.
In reply, LSJA chairman, Hammed, said the gesture by the Japanese government would help increase judo’s popularity, as well as encourage more people to embrace the sport.
He, however, appealed to the Japanese government to help rehabilitate their judo hall at the Mobolaji Johnson Sports Complex in Rowe Park to inspire more athletes and create an enabling environment for the sport to thrive.
The Director General, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC), Oluwatoyin Gafar, who was represented at the event by Director of Sports Development in LSSC, Moses Kolawole, thanked the Japanese government for its generosity, while promising that the equipment would be well utilised to groom world beaters in the sport.