A foremost traditional ruler in Nigeria, The Ooni of Ife, Oba Adeyeye Enitan Ogunwusi Ojaja II has said unity and peaceful coexistence in Nigeria can be strengthened through sporting activities, calling on government to give priority to sports development in their states.
Ooni Ogunwusi stated this on Thursday at the Sports Complex of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife in his address during the celebration of the International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP) promotion, 2023, organized by Fit for Christ Ministries, Ile Ife.
Recall that International Day of Sports for Development and Peace (IDSDP) is observed April 6 every year to commemorate the important roles that sports and physical exercise play in communities and people’s lives around the world.
The monarch, who was represented by the Agbolu of Agbaje Community, Oba Adekunle Adebowale described sports as a powerful medium of uniting people, empowering the youth and fostering positive change in the society.
“Sports in this 21st century is beyond just a game. Its feathers can be used in many ways to bring back the unity, peace and progress to Nigeria, apart from physical fitness that can make people healthy.
“I remember that our forefathers lived up to over 100 years and beyond in the past as they engaged in sporting activities through farming. They trekked to the farm, bent down to till the ground for farming, climbed trees to pluck some fruits, kolanuts and many more before they also trekked back home. In the evening, some of them engaged in games like Ayo Olopon, draughts and many more with their friends. As a result of this, they were physically and mentally fit and as such remained valid and healthy till they die.
“Some of these physical activities are missing nowadays as majority of Nigerian youth are desperate to cut corners despite that sports is a veritable means of getting rich. It is high time governments at all levels invested heavily in sports. It’s a way of engaging the youth and change their orientation. As politics and religions become very sensitive which some people use to divide us, sports can be used to mends the fence of friendship, unity, peace and progress of Nigeria,” said Ooni.
Also speaking, an ex-international female Badminton player, Mrs Oyenike Adeleke emphasized the significance of sports in gender equality, calling on parents to encourage their girl-children to engage in sports.
“I was raised by parents who loved sports. Through sports, I have been to China, UK, US, South Africa and many other countries to represent Nigeria after being discovered at age nine. We should remember that not all children can become doctors or lawyers. So, I call on all parents to give support to their children to participate in sports from childhood as this may be where their grace, glory and divine wealth are lying waiting,’ concluded Mrs Adeleke.
Earlier in their separate addresses of welcome, organizer of the programme, a trained sports Psychologist and former table-tennis honorary Coach of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife who had won laurels at NUGA and WAUG games, Evangelist Taiwo Akinola Awoyemi and the Secretary General of the Ministry, Mrs. Elizabeth Awoyemi said the Fit-For-Christ Ministries organized the program to encourage sports activities in children, youth and adults in order to nurture their holistic development, enhance quality health and well-being, foster peaceful and cohesive communities as well as proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Some of the events which held during the programme are 5-7km endurance trek from Ile Oduduwa, Enuwa to OAU Sports Centre, game skills exhibition in Football, Basketball, Athletics, Handball, Cricket, Hockey, Table Tennis, Cycling and swimming by students of Oaks Nursery and Primary School, Oduduwa College and Urban day secondary School, all in Ile Ife.
Other dignitaries who attended the program are Reverend Jacob Abegunde, Mrs. Funmilayo Abegunde (Beulah Baptist Church), Deacon Biodun Oyedare, Reverend Dr. Kunmi Adejumobi, Dr. Charles Opeyemi Egona (Nigeria Red Cross), Osun State State chapter, Chairman, Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Osun State Chapter, Mr. Timothy Agbor who was represented by the Association’s Secretary, Tajudeen Amodu among others