This article was not originally an article per se. It has to be recalled from the archives to support my earlier position on this topic of AFROTRADOSPORTS IN OUR SCHOOLS, which was published in this column/blog earlier on. Let us go through it first before I comment on it.
A key note address to the national workshop on setting and harmonizing rules and regulations to guide the teaching and playing of traditional sports in all educational institutions in Nigeria by Mallam Elias Yusuf, Vice Chairman, Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS), Shiroro Hotel, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria, 2nd – 5th May, 2001.
I am highly delighted to be called upon to give a key note address on Traditional Sports to this August gathering at a national level. I consider it as a great recognition for talent and industry which I humbly represent, and a due recognition for our great national association, Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports (NATS) of which I am the Vice Chairman and the Chairman of the Technical Committee.
Traditional Sports in Nigeria and the world over have been the sports of the hoipolloi from time immemorial. However, some nations have developed their traditional sports to high and sophisticated taste over the years that they, have now become global and universal sports and of course, with high commercial and educational value.
Track and field were traditional sports to the Greeks, soccer and cricket were traditional sports to the British, basketball and volleyball were traditional sports to North America, judo and karate were traditional sports of Asia. Now, all of them have become global and international sports with high educational taste and commercial value. Our own traditional sports have been rendered valueless over the years by external and internal devaluations, neglect and slumber, thereby reducing our great country/continent to a mere consumer of other peoples’ sports. Despite all these odds, our traditional sports remain useful and friendly with grassroot, yearning for the limelight.
The question arises, how do we redress this nasty issue? To me, the answer to the question is: EDUCATION, EDUCATION AND EDUCATION. The only answer is in EDUCATION.
This answer caught a glimpse of the light in Nigeria, in June, 1993 when the Federal Ministry of Education organized a National Seminar with the theme: POPULARIZING NIGERIAN INDIGENOUS GAMES IN NIGERIAN SCHOOLS. From this seminar at the University of Ibadan Conference Center, some Nigerian indigenous sports were short – listed to be included into National Curriculum, but alas! not until this workshop, that glimpse from the Education sector dimmed.
However, as if 1993 had been destined to play a watershed of progress for Nigerian Traditional Sports, another ray of hope sprang up, this time around from a federal parastatal, the National Sports Commission under its Executive Chairman, Chief Alex Akinleye who inaugurated the board of Nigerian Association of Traditional Sports in August 1993 as a national sports association to mobilize, discover, develop and promote our traditional sports through standardization, harmonization and modernization of the rules and regulations and to organize competitions on them for popularization and to eventually export them to other countries.
The first Chairman of NATS was Alh. Dr. G.N. Hamzat, 1993-1995, followed by Alh. Bako Abdu in 1995-1997 and Dr. Haske Dantanee from 1997-2001….. a good number of achievements have been recorded. Abula received IOC patronage through Sports For All Nigeria in April 1994: the First National Festival of Traditional Sports in Nigeria was organized in Dec. 1994, traditional sports became demonstration event at the 10th National Sports Festival, Benue 96, where rules of Ayo were versioned out as National Rules. It was also in Minna in December, 1996 that the first coaching clinic on traditional sports by NATS was organized.
As at today, five of our traditional sports-Abula, Ayo, Dambe, Kokawa and Langa have become scoring events at National Sports Festival organized biennially in Nigeria. At Imo ’98 and Bauchi 2000, traditional sports produced 14, 15 and 15 gold, silver and bronze medals respectively. We have published two booklets 1998 and 2000 respectively, administrative regulations of Traditional Sports in Nigeria. We submitted the syllabus of grade I grade II and grade III coaches in traditional sports to the Nigerian Institute for Sports in 1999.
With these and other achievements of NATS, I like to state that the task of this committee has been mollified by what NATS has on ground to make our Nigerian traditional sports go into the educational institutions in Nigeria for both teaching and playing, because both the theory and practice of the traditional sports in Nigeria have been domesticated and documented to certain extent.
Above all, NATS is ready to make these advantages available to this committee with a great plea, that this committee should please treat them with broadmindedness, understanding and respect for tradition and modernism because these are the main ways forward for traditional sports in Nigeria today.
I wish to appeal that this committee should act with dispatch to ensure that traditional sports enter our educational system with immediate effect as Shakespeare warned: “In delay, there lies no plenty”. When all these documentation are done, they should not end up in the archive, as traditional sports is a form of tourism that not only can fetch Nigeria billions of Naira’s, but will provide job for several thousands of Nigerians in this new millennium. I can give you as a practical example that Coach John here in Minna is the Niger State coach for Abula. In other words, traditional sports are already providing jobs for our youths.
Mallam Elias Yusuf.
Featuring the above key note address as part two of Afrotradosports in our schools in Africa is as necessary as ever, as not much changes have been seen on the issue. It is a GREAT REMINDER to our Federal Ministry of Education in Nigeria that there is need for the Ministry to do SOMETHING NOW to favour promotion of our Traditional Sports in schools. She should check on the facts in the above write up and follow up with concrete actions to redress the issue. Nigeria is not just called “Giant of Africa” she is an ARROW HEAD for Africa development and the central pillar for Africa liberation in all fronts. Nigeria should liberate African indigenous/traditional sports without further delay.
The Federal Ministry of Education is a great ally of UNESCO. She knows much about the stand of UNESCO on traditional Sports, then the roles of sports in educational development of children/pupils/students and the roles of students sports tourism in the world. If the developed countries did not develop their own sports, can we be able to be yearning to collect gold medals on them when we go to Olympic Games, Commonwealth Games, World Championships? etc.
They say charity begins at home. Promotion of our African Traditional Sports should begin in our schools where our youths and the primary home of sports development worldwide reside. In fact, this ministry started this very important program of promoting our indigenous sports in our schools in 1993 with the theme: Popularising Nigerian Indigenous Games in Nigerian Schools.
Sports and games are the vitamins and minerals salts of the locomotor domain of educational development which dovetails to carry the cognitive and affective domains of educational development shoulder high, remembering that great philosophy; a sound mind in a sound body.
Our Traditional Sports are our ready-made flagships of identity worldwide and can be commercialized as well. We can also contribute sports that will produce medals at the Olympic or Commonwealth Games in the future from among our African Indigenous Traditional Sports, if we are serious with their development and promotion right now, they will also provide homely employment to thousands of our youths too. It is a form of local content in sports.
A stitch in time, saves nine.
Mallam Elias Yusuf
NB: Today 2nd May, 2018 makes it exactly 17years ago that the above key note address