As part of its commitment to Nutrition, Health and Wellness, Nestlé became the main sponsor of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ (IAAF) Kids Athletics programme, which is one of the biggest grassroots development programmes in the world of sports.
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.
On Thursday, July 25, 2013, thousands of Nigerian primary school pupils thus became the first beneficiaries of the progamme in Central and West Africa, effecting 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 beginning July 2013 until September 2014, comprises competitive athletic events to be organized among primary schools in Ibadan, Ilorin, Owerri, Kano, Asaba and Gombe.
The official event got underway at the Opebi Model Primary School in Lagos. It was attended by more than 400 school kids, federal and state 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 6 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, Health and Wellness will not only help promote a balanced and healthy lifestyle for children, but also augment development of athletics in Nigeria.
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 seen as dignity among students to run for one’s school.
He was hopeful that the Nestlé/ IAAF will bring back the “run” experience to our schools, raising a total healthy kid: “It is our belief that this project will encourage the average child to run jump, hop, throw, clap and smile”.
Subsequent to the Nigerian launch, the programme is expected to be rolled out in other countries in the Region with Ghana being the next.