Nigeria can only regain its place among the best sporting nations of the world when the country pays adequate attention to schools sports, Schools sports expert, Oluseyi Oyebode, has said.
The Physical and Health Education graduate of the University of Lagos, who is credited with building the enviable Greensprings Schools sports culture, believes that the country can get back to the level it was in the 1970s and 1980s when managers of the sports sector give adequate attention to the grassroots by establishing youth development programmes across the country.
Oyebode, who said he was inspired by the many footballs and athletics programmes at the grassroots level when he was in a secondary school in the 1980s, believes the country has enough talents to challenge best sports nations of the world if they were harnessed properly.
He said, “Sports has not been given enough attention in schools in Nigeria because the administrators have not realised that the solution to Nigeria’s problems lies in schools. Most of the schools in Nigeria lack the basic facilities needed to train talents, the sports masters and coaches are not well trained, while most of the schools focus on funds generation without articulating what to do with such funds.
“One of the major problems is our inability to focus and understand our strength and purposes. I discovered this challenge very early in my career and this helped my programmes in the schools I am associated with. Many administrators avoid school sports because the returns don’t come as fast as they expect. To be involved in school sports, you need to be resilient.’
Oyebode said poor financing and corruption have hindered school sports development in Nigeria, adding that Nigeria must train and equip its coaches and administrators to meet modern demands of the sports sector.
He added, “We need to stop recycling our sports administrators if we must move forward. Tertiary institutions’ sports education curriculum is not addressing today’s needs. There is a need for sports policy development that will meet global requirements. We need a good sports structure that can accommodate 18 months to 18 years plans.
“I know the current sports minister is doing his best to involve the private sector in the revival of the sector, but he needs honest and patriotic civil servants to succeed. That is a big challenge because if the civil servants don’t buy his ideas, they will frustrate his efforts.
“We need a system that encourages genuine sports development. If you lack basic self-trust, self-respect and self-confidence, your self-esteem deficiency will limit you no matter what other assets you possess. The value we place on ourselves is usually the value others place on us.”
Oyebode said he decided to go into schools sports management when he discovered that the best place to build any country’s sports and the youth is in schools.
“My involvement in school sports as a director has exposed me to the global perspective of sports development,” he said. “It has given me the opportunity to interact with counterparts across the globe from where I have developed a grassroots sports concept that is now beneficial to many federations and associations.
“One of the major challenges was encouraging schools to use sports as a tool to develop students’ growth, which later encouraged parents to subscribe to my philosophy of sports and education. Consequently, many students in public and private schools have benefited through scholarships and professional sports participation.”