Sport in Nigeria

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At the tenth Nigerian University Games in 1984, 257 athletes from 17 of the 24 Nigerian universities were interviewed to determine their perception and rating of the problems influencing the development of sport at Nigerian universities. Thus, many problems of university athletes, especially concerning the administration, academic education, training programs and the lack of material and human resources, were reported. As a result of this study 14 recommendations are listed to improve university athletics and, by doing so, sport in general in Nigeria. Thus, they demand an improvement of physical education in secondary schools, the establishment of departments of physical education at all universities and better facilities and more frequent competitions for university athletes. • CiteULike

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Sport is made for the people and vice versa. In fact sport has been described as the opium of the people, as it can make them forget their worries, problems and sorrows as well as forgive their enemies. No wonder then that many governments all over the world have usually utilized sport as a means of unifying the populace during times of strive, rebellion or uprising. Sport can also be used to galvanize the populace to support policies and legislations that would have ordinarily been rejected. Multi-ethnic societies where their constituent ethnic groups are always at daggers drawn with each other can also employ sport, as a means of inculcating cooperation, friendship and good neighbourliness in their citizens. All the abovementioned, are possible because sport is perhaps the most potent social integration force available to individuals, institutions, governments etc.

‘Citus, Altius, Fortius’, meaning ‘Faster, Higher, Stronger’ – the motto of the Olympic Games - ably describes why sportsmen/women from most nations of the world gather every leap year to contest in various sports of the Games. The contest is usually very dramatic and keen, and it is the wish of every nation to win some laurels during the Games. Towards this end, no stone is usually left unturned because, sports, especially on the international competitive front has gone beyond mere competition between individuals or groups of individuals representing their nations. The nations now take part in competitions to win and, a lot of money, energy and strategy go in to ensure victory.

This is because sport has become a powerful and veritable political tool. It is therefore not surprising that nowadays one of the greatest and fastest springboards by which nations or individuals can achieve world eminence is through active, purposeful and result-oriented participation in sport at the international level. Developing nations of the world without the pecuniary, manpower and armaments’ prowess of super powers have always managed to use sport to raise their ‘tiny’ voices when important points are made or sought in the intricate and ever becoming sophisticated political arena.

Take for example Nigeria; she spearheaded the dismantling of apartheid in Zimbabwe and South-Africa. Probably the most powerful weapon used by Nigeria and her allies, was sport. The boycott of International Games like the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton and the 1976 Olympic Games in Canada championed by Nigeria, went a long way in breaking the backbone of ‘apartheid’ policies as well as ‘unilateral declaration of independence’. Individuals have also used sport to limelight societal problems or gain political despotism. The “Black power Salute” of the Mexico 1968 Olympics readily comes

to mind. On the local scene in Nigeria, the likes of Late Chief M.K.O. Abiola, Chief Jim Nwobodo (former Team Manager of the Rangers International Football Club of Enugu), Chief Samuel Ogbemudia (the sporting-Governor of the Old Midwest State), Senator Osakwe (proprietor of the...
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