The role of African athletes in the development of sport
With their passion and commitment, African athletes can make sport development in Africa a success.
Nigeria's Obafemi Martins exploiting his talents in Europe
Many talented African athletes
An African athlete can be categorised as an athlete, either living abroad or in his/her home country, who has represented his/her country of origin at both local and international levels.
A typical African athlete can do a lot for their country either by giving a good representation of themselves abroad and promoting a good image of their country, or by giving back by way of charity work (or other public service) to help in the development of their homeland.
Africa is blessed with a wealth of sporting talent, including amongst the disabled. The continent takes part in over 50 sports internationally; the most popular of these within the continent are football, track and field events, cricket, rugby and polo. Disabled athletes from Africa are some of the most prolific when it comes to winning medals, especially at the Paralympics Games.
Lack of sport development in Africa
However, one of the problems facing sports in Africa is the lack of its development on the continent. Most athletes often have to go abroad to better exploit their skills and talents. Take for example football; no African country has a fully developed league that can attract a top international player. Even the US, which is considered fairly new when it comes to football, compared to an African country like Nigeria for example, has a reputable professional league that could boast of international stars like David Beckham and even Nigeria's Obafemi Martins.
Ways for African athletes to give back to their country
One way African athletes can give back to the continent is to ensure the development of their individual sport to the extent that athletes can be groomed here, exploit their talents here and gracefully represent their countries on the international front as "home-based" athletes. Africa cannot continue relying on Europe and America to groom their talents.
African athletes can help sports back home by building or organising youth clinics. They can become involved in the making and exacting of sports legislature and push for inclusion of sports in school curricula, such that inter-school competitions at primary and secondary school levels is a norm that is promoted and sponsored by the state and federal governments and not a fancy that is picked up by some corporate body to promote themselves.
It is not enough to serve your country and then fold your arms after retirement. Athletes owe it to their individual sports, talents, passion for the game to help create an enabling sports environment that will make it much easier for future athletes.
They can become more involved in their sports on a management level. Most African governments have a choke-hold on sports management in their country; by getting involved in the politics of sports management, athletes who have served their country well can bring their knowledge of how the sport is handled in countries where they thrive, to bear in their home countries.
It will take work, it will take a fight, it will take true commitment, but most of all it requires the love of the sport which should push a true athlete to want to see it live through future generations.
written by Aderonke Ogunleye
culled from Sportanddev
Inspire Girls Nigeria
Inspire Girls Nigeria is an ongoing project under sport and development initiative in Nigeria focused on the use of sports as a tool to empower young girls and allow them grow into a better woman.
The Team comprises of three people and on Tuesday went all out to
discuss with the young girls between ages 8 and 15, the girls were all
excited to see the team, and about 150 girls were inspired at the
Local Education Authority School Utako, Abuja was visited amongst
which donations like Football, skipping ropes, sanitary pads and books
were donated to the girls on behalf of the team. It was an interactive
session which was well over 1hr 45mins.
Nnenna Ibeh a health practitioner, Girl Child Education advocate and
maternal and child healthcare specialist spoke to the girls about the
importance of their health especially cleanliness, she said “for you
to become a beautiful woman, you have to wash your pants everyday,
brush your teeth, have your bathe everyday and make sure you remain
clean, do not play in the sand to avoid unnecessary germs from
entering your body’ amongst other things.
An 11 year old Primary 5 pupil, Esther Excel asked Miss Ibeh to advise
on an issue concerning a foul smelly vaginal, Miss Ibeh advised her
and the rest of the girls on how to wash their vaginal, how to keep it
clean always so as to prevent it from infections that makes the
vaginal to smell and to ensure regular visits to their doctors when
Hannatu Ibrahim was also worried about heavy flow despite starting her
menstruation at the early age of 9, she complained of heavy flow which
normally made her to stain her uniform every time and it normally
leads to smell, which prompt anther girl to ask about a black
menstrual period, these girls wants to know and Miss Ibeh advised them
to change their pads every 6- 7 hours and they should never be ashamed
to tell their teacher in the class and must also go out to change
Mr. McCharles a Women’s football writer spoke to the girls about
sports, he encouraged them to engage in sports events on a daily
basis, he said “if you want to live a healthy life engage in sports,
make sure that you do sports all the time, exercise, walk around, jog,
at least 5 minutes of exercise will be okay per day.” Mr. McCharles
He went further to lecture them on their choice of sports, he said
“it’s very important for you to be involved in not at least 1 sport,
you shouldn’t be scared to engage in sports and recreational
activities, Serena Williams is doing well she’s playing tennis, and
other female athletes, you must choose a particular sport and make
sure you’re very good at it by practicing and perfecting but not at
the risk of your studies because education is very important.” He said
He gave them a plan on how they can manage their time between sports
time and study time.
Questions were asked on which sports to do and at the end of the day
most of the girls opted for swimming as their choice sports, few wants
basketball, none of them wants to play football, Mr. Mccharles then
promised to schedule a physical training day for the girls, they were
all happy and gave him a hug one after the other.
Miss Aderonke ogunleye, project coordinator was the last to speak and
she appraised self-confidence, hard work, self-esteem and smartness.
The already excited girls kept on ranting ‘I am a Girl and I am proud’
fanning themselves with their palms, the other arm akimbo and smiling,
it took the effort of their head teacher to bring calmness and regain
the full attention of the already inspired girls, Miss Aderonke told
them not to look down on themselves just because they are a girl
instead they should see themselves as the strongest of all the Gender,
she said “As a girl you should be bold, do not allow any boy in your
class, or anywhere to subject you, you are the strongest of them all,
you will become a woman and bring children, you will become a leader
and even a president, don’t think low of yourself, you are the most
beautiful creature created by God".
The girls played football, some with the skipping rope while the rest engaged in Athletics after the interactive session. Group A won the football match, Patricia a 13 year old girl won the skipping competition while the oldest girl in the school, Ade won the athletics race.
Young Girls needs to be reminded all the time that they have a future,
the female is not a weak gender and there cannot be a great man
without a woman’s impact, through childbirth and/or normal training.
The aim is to inspire the girls and empower them, the team was able to
achieve this and at the end of the day, we were able to realize that
most female child from the northern part of Nigeria only wants to
attain an age and get married without any future ambition, we were
able to an extent convince them that they are also entitled to have a
life and a career, 12 years old Zainab is preparing for marriage
already, she said ‘when I am 14 years I will go and marry and start my
own family, my husband will buy me clothes and give me food’