The maiden edition of Athletics in Schools Program (AISP), ended on a high with CMS Grammar School, Bariga and St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka as pacesetters for the project.
The program which was organised by Athletics Heat Ltd in partnership with Nigeria Athletics, was founded with the sole aim of promoting Track and Field culture among Nigerian school students, while inspiring the next generation about the essence of combining school and sport.
In doing this, the organisers worked with a star athlete in Oyeniyi Abejoye as worthy role model, whose achievements includes being 2018 Nigeria’s fastest hurdler and Africa’s second fastest, while educationally he’s a 2016 graduate of University of Lagos (Unilag).
To kick start things, CMS Grammar school was our first host and first school to set the pace for AISP. Incidentally the school is the first secondary school established in Nigeria, and the Alma mater of Athletic Heat boss, Ese Oguma.
Oguma, a final year student of University of Port-Harcourt, in his motivational speech talked on the importance of having a college degree and not dwelling on just innate talent.
“You can pursue your dream of being a great athlete as I am doing, but never let your education slip. Never forget the value of being educated. If I never make it big as an athlete, I’m very confident that I’ll be successful as a university graduate and that’s the guarantee that education gives you.”
Thereafter Nigeria Athletics founder, Funmilayo Fameso was on the stage to talk on the power of self-believe and corrected the notion that sports is for dullards.
“Sports is not for dullards. Oyeniyi is a graduate of Unilag, and he is doing very well on the track. Once you set your heart at something believe you can achieve, if you work towards it” she said.
The Nigerian Champion closed the speech section by emphasising on the importance of time management as a student athlete, how he was able to shuffle class and training while still an undergraduate, and the need to stay humble when success has been attained.
At the close of event, the organisers presented to the school an autographed framed vest of Abejoye worn at the 2018 Commonwealth Games. The frame was received by the sports teacher and the students.
Meanwhile, a personal gift of an autographed Nigerian vest from the hurdler went to the fastest student of the school, Essien who in appreciation said “It’s huge for me getting a vest from him. Now I’m going to take my athletics career seriously as I want to do same in future.”
The AISP train then moved to St. Finbarr’s College, Akoka interestingly the Alma mater of Abejoye, where we were received by the school’s sports teacher, Mr Lukas.
After introductions, the students were really excited to have such important figures in their midst, notably with the fact that the school was where it all started for the Nigerian Champion.
Abejoye was first on the speech podium, where he spoke on the 3P’s in his life. He said “My 3P’s in life are Practice, Persistence and Patience. You have to practice to achieve your goals on the track. You have to be persistent in what you do because it keeps you going, while you have to remain patient and believe in God.”
Oguma was next, talking on what it takes being a professional athlete. “The lifespan of a professional athlete is what? A decade at most, 15 if you’re stretching it? Then you have the rest of your life to look at – so what’s your plan after sports? Then the hope is that you make it right? By chance you don’t become the next Usain Bolt, Messi, LeBron James then what? You must learn to balance both your school and sport. So you don’t lose on both ends.”
Also with some words of advice was Coach Olu Sule, a National jumps coach and Head Coach of Arena Academy.
“Apart from being a career, athletics also gives you an opportunity to travel around the world. There are so many offers that comes with doing sports but you have to remain disciplined. Whatever sport you do, don’t give up. Just keep up with what you do because you don’t know what the sport can offer. You can become a Sports Journalist, Sports Consultant, Manager, Physio etc. The list is endless so never give up.” he said.
As a gift to the school, Abejoye presented a signed frame of his shirt worn at the IAAF Continental Cup to the school, which was received by the school’s coach Mr Lukas and Sports Prefect.
The second gift of the day went to St. Finbarr’s fastest student, Benjamin Oshafi to serve motivation to the young champ.
“This is a really big deal in my life right now, for Africa’s second fastest hurdler to give me this shirt. I’m super excited” – the youngster said.
It was great experience at the end of AISP at both schools, as the student were pleading to come back in future or their inter-house sports, so we can scout for more talents in the schools.
We intend to cover more secondary schools in Lagos State and make it a nationwide project, so more students can benefit from this laudable project. By so doing, we’re open for sponsorship’s & partnerships.