By Olawale Ajimotokan
The maiden edition of Nigeria Army Combat Sports will hold at the Nigeria Defence Academy, Kaduna from, May 20-24, with 80 soldiers from some of the army formations across the country in attendance.
The Chairman of the Games Organising Committee and Commander Infantry Corps, Maj. Gen Kenneth Minimah, told reporters Thursday that the soldiers will compete in judo, kick boxing, taekwondo and wrestling.
Gen Minimah said the talents discovered at the games will be nurtured into prominence hopefully to make Nigeria proud at the next Olympic Games in Rio, Brazil in 2016.
The competing divisions are 1 Division Kaduna, 2 Division Ibadan, 3 Division Jos, 81 Division Lagos, 82 Division Enugu, and Army Headquarters Garrison, Abuja.
The formations are expected to produce teams for both male and female in all the four sports mentioned.
The Army Combat Sports Games is a mini fiesta that will set the stage for the broader Nigeria Army Games next year.
Unlike the rest of the sports, Minimah said that only boxing will have an age eligibility limit of 17-22, as the Nigeria Army wants to groom and train young boxers over long term to be of use to Nigeria.
In the past, Nigeria Army produced international boxers like Joe Mensah, Obisia Nwakpa, Tony Andeh, Kayin Armah, Solomon Otoga and of recent Segun Ajose, who all made the big grade at the world level.
''As you are aware, the history of sports in Nigeria cannot be said without mentioning the role of the Nigeria Army. The late Major Emmnanuel Ifeajuna won the first Nigerian gold medal at the Commonwealth Games in 1956 and other prominent military personnel have represented Nigeria at different international events in the past both as athletres and administrators,” Minimah said.