By: Chioma Umeha
*The kid athletes with top Nigerian athletes Falilat Ogunkoya-Omotayo and Yussuf Alli during the Nestlé/IAAF Kids Athletics Activation in Ikeja, Lagos…yesterday, in Photo
Nestlé Nigeria Plc, the beverage company has called for positive physical, health and social skills development of school-age-children by engaging them in sporting activities, apart from enhancing their qualities as future athletes Making the call was Dr Samuel Adenekan, Manager Corporate Communications and Public Affairs, Nestlé, who explained that the company was the main sponsor of the just concluded International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Kids Athletics programme.
According to him, supporting the just concluded International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Kids Athletics programme, which is one of the biggest grassroots development programmes in the world of sports, was part of Nestle’s commitment to nutrition and health. A statement at the weekend, signed by Adenekan, said: “The initiative aims to encourage school-age-children to develop positive physical, health and social skills by engaging in sporting activities while, at the same time, enhancing the development of future athletes.” Penultimate Thursday, thousands of Nigerian primary school pupils became the first beneficiaries of the progamme in Central and West Africa, which signaled a landmark investment in sports development, nutrition education and physical activity towards better health in the most populous African nation. The programme, which is expected to reach over 200,000 primary school pupils in the country began last month and continue till September 2014.
The last edition featured competitive athletic events among primary schools from Ibadan, Ilorin, Owerri, Kano, Asaba and Gombe. The event which took place at the Opebi Model Primary School in Lagos was attended by more than 400 school kids, federal and state sports officials, as well as a former national sports icon, Yussuf Ali, who has held the national record in long jump since the 1980s. Nestlé is also providing financial support for IAAF to train athletics coaches and lecturers with the aim of eventually reaching a larger number of children in existing or new markets. Nestlé’s support for Kids’ Athletics complements the Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme launched in Nigeria in 2011 and reaches more than 15,000 children in Lagos, Ogun and Oyo states between six and 12 years old. The programme is being implemented in partnership with the Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN), which has been promoting the development of athletics in schools.
Managing Director of Nestlé Nigeria, Dharnesh Gordhon stated: “Nestlé is pleased to provide financial support for the further development of IAAF Kids’ Athletics programme”. He added: “Beyond supporting IAAF’s Kids Athletics programme, we believe that this partnership will further enhance Nestlé Healthy Kids Global Programme and improve the Nutrition, Health and Wellness of school-age-children”. President of AFN, Solomon Ogba, said Nestlé’s expertise in nutrition and health will not only help promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle for children, but also augment development of athletics in the country. President of the Nigerian School Sports Federation (NSSF), Mallam Ibrahim Muhammed, said athletics used to be the number one sports in the country and it was a symbol of dignity among students to be one’s school athlete.
He was hopeful that the Nestlé/ IAAF will bring back the “run” experience to our schools and the upbringing of a total healthy kid. “It is our belief that this project will encourage the average child to run jump, hop, throw, clap and smile,” Muhammed said. Subsequent to the Nigerian launch, the programme is expected to be rolled out in other countries in Central and West Africa with Ghana being the next.
This story was published in Newswatch Times on August 10, 2013.