Minister to Universities: Go back to basics on production of great sportsmen, women

The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has charged the universities in the country to retrace their steps back to the period when they usually produced sportsmen and women who later become great in one sporting activity or the other.

He also asked them to cultivate habit of engaging in meaningful researches in sport-related disciplines as well as upgrading their sporting facilities to that of high standards.

The minister gave the charge on Friday in Lagos while officially lighting the Nigeria University Games Association (NUGA 2022) Torch at the University of Lagos, Akoka- the host university.

The games, which are slated for March next year and to feature about 136 public and private universities will be 26th edition and with UNILAG hosting it for the fourth time.

Speaking further, the minister said Nigerian universities played a major role in the past in the production of footballers, athletes and other sportsmen and women who represented the country in major global competitions.

He cited examples, saying, “I could remember that the University of Lagos produced Adokie Amiesimaka, Adeolu Adekola and others, while the University of Ibadan produced Mutiu Adepoju, Edith Agoye and others; University of Benin (UNIBEN) produced Edema Fuludu and a foremost Super Falcon, Nkiru Okosieme; Obafemi Awolowo University Ile-Ife gave us Nosa Osadolor and many others; Ladoke Akintola University (LUATECH), Ogbomosho gave us Seyi Olofinjana, and we got Paul Obiefule from Federal University of Technology, Owerri(FUTO); Bolaji Douglas from the University of Ilorin and University of Uyo gave us Vincent Enyeama and a former Super Falcons goalkeeper and captain Precious Dede.

“I could also recollect that in athletics, our universities provided us with Enefiok Udobong, Olusoji Fasuba, Ambrose Ezenwa, Bisi Afolabi and very recently Enoch Adegoke, who got to the finals of the 100 metres men’s event at the Tokyo Olympics and so also in Basketball where we have Olumide Oyedeji, in Taekwondo, Chika Chukwumerije, who is an Olympic medalist, and in Badminton, where we have two of our national team players – Akinshola Simeon and Aminat Ilori who are presently students of the Lagos State University(LASU).

“So, I’m imploring our universities to grow the list.”

The minister on research activities said NUGA as part of its responsibilities to sports development in the country should take a further step in ensuring sports-related faculties go into partnership with one another.

According to him, faculties of Physical and Health Education, Human Kinetics and Physiology for example can work with the faculties of Physical Sciences and Medical Sciences to provide scientific and intellectual insights into the development of modern, practical and sustainable training, as well as athlete development programmes that will take every stage of the life of the athlete (from the cradle to the podium) into consideration.

He also recalled that in the past such as in the 1970s and early 80s, the best sports facilities in Nigeria were on university campuses, citing examples of OAU, Ile Ife, where he said the national football teams used to camp and the University of Ibadan for athletes while Ahmadu Bello University (ABU) and the University of Nigeria, Nsukka apart from having some of the best training facilities, also had some of the most committed and knowledgeable administrators as their directors of sports.

He said all these achievements could be repeated and sustained and even surpassed once there is genuine commitment.

The minister, however, urged the students to see sports as a business and not a mere recreation activity, noting that the lighting of the torch of the games is an indication of positive spirit of gamesmanship and its ability to promote friendliness, fairness,  peace and healthy competition.

“That is why I feel so privileged to be part of the process that promotes the positive attitudes of gamesmanship, friendliness and fairness driven by the passion and will to win, and the determination to overcome all hurdles to success among Nigerian universities in sports,” he stressed.

In their separate remarks, the chairman of the governing council of UNILAG, Dr Lanre Tejuosho and the Vice-Chancellor, Prof Oluwatoyin Ogundipe, said the participating institutions should expect to experience the best NUGA games in history.

They said though preparations were on top gear, philanthropists, captains of industries, sports lovers, groups and corporate organisations should come and support the university in any way possible.

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