Sports

57 years of sports in Nigeria, how good or bad?

 

Yesterday, Nigeria clocked 57 years of attaining Independence from Colonial rule.

Within this period, culture and tradition of the people have been impactful, not only in the country but also outside the shores of Nigeria.

In sporting activities Nigeria cannot be pushed back. Sports and culture area mix, therefore you hardly can separate them. For instance, we have the traditional sport called Dambe Boxing, a Hausa martial sports on festivals.

In the early days, Dambe Boxing means practicing military skills, yet the game is now only played as a means of achieving personal prestige, demonstrating masculinity, and bringing honour to one’s family and village.

In Nigeria, along with many other countries where Football is a popular sport, the country is making god impact in sporting activities.

Super Eagles, a national team, competes regularly for international titles and has made its mark in global sports competitions when regarded as one of the best teams in Africa and was ranked 10th in the world.

Rashidi Yekini was the most notable striker in Nigeria for he played more than two decades. He was also the top scorer in his time.

Nigeria may lack on sports achievements but never in festivities and events held annually that many Nigerians are excited for. Some of these are Argungu Fishing Festival which was first held in 1934, and the goal of the competition is to catch the largest fish. The Abuja International Motor Fair is an event that showcases the latest in the car and truck worlds.

Below are details of sports, sporting events and sports people related to Nigeria. Is there something missing? If you know of something that should be listed here, please make a comment below.

In 2013, Nigeria ended a 19-year Africa Cup of Nations title drought with a 1-0 victory over Burkina Faso.

Football Soccer

The Nigerian Football Federation was created in 1945. It was the first year that a competition was organized bringing together clubs from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Calabar.

The championship was also renamed the Challenge Cup replacing the Governor’s Cup as it had been known under their British colonizers.

It was only several years later that the Challenge Cup became a national trophy when other top clubs from different provinces were invited to play. However, the clubs had to wait till 1990 for the professional league to be introduced.

Nigeria emerged on the international football/soccer scene in 1960 when it first entered the World Cup, but failed to qualify for the finals. It eventually qualified for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The Nigerian National League began in 1972 when five teams entered the league.

This grew to 12 teams by 1978. By the 1980s, the national football team, the Super Eagles (formerly known as the Green Eagles) had become a team to reckon with at the international level.

The Super Eagles was adjudged the best team in Africa and one of the best ten in the world at a time. Nigeria won the first World Cup in the under-16 category in China in 1985 and came second the same category two years later in Canada.

Its Under-20 soccer team won the bronze medal in the Junior World Cup competition in the Soviet Union in 1985, the silver medal in Saudi Arabia in 1989 and in the Netherlands in 2005.

The national football team, the Super Eagles has won the African Cup of Nations in 1980, 1994 and 2013 and was the finalist three times in the competition. They reached the second round of the World Cup in 1994, 1998 and 2014.

They were crowned Champions (Gold Medal) in Olympic Games in Atlanta, U.S.A in 1996, a performance which Nigerians and many Super Eagles fans across the world will remember for a long time. The under-17 team tutored by Coach Yemi Tella also won the Gold Medal in the 2007 Junior World Cup.

The story of the Super Eagles is also that of individual star players that make the minds of football lovers vibrate, from Henry Nwosu, Segun Odegbami, Steven Keshi (RIP), Rashidi Yekini (RIP), Daniel Amokachi, Mudashiru Lawal, Sunday Oliseh, Taribo West, Samson Siasia, Tijani Babangida, Victor Ikpeba, Stephen Keshi(RIP), George Finidi, Emmanuel Amunike, Celestine Babayaro, Austin Okocha, Kanu Nwankwo, Victor Agali, Peter Odemwinge, Mikel Obi, Ahmed Musa among others. The Super Eagles are now ranked among the best teams, not only in Africa but in the world. They put up an impressive performance in the 2014 World Cup championship in Brazil, attaining the second round.

Women Football (Super Falcons)

Nigeria also boasts of a strong Women’s football team, the Super Falcons, which, as of 2007, has won the seven editions of the African Women’s Football championship organised since the creation of this championship in 1991. Driven by talented players, like Florence Omogbemi, Ajuma Ameh, Anne Chiejine and Effionanwan Ekpo, among others.

The Women’s team also reached the quarter final of the 1999 Women’s foot- ball World Cup and the 2004 Olympic games.

Professional Boxing

Samuel Peter clinched the World Heavyweight title (2007), Nigeria produced three world champions (Hogan “Kid” Bassey, featherweight, 1957-1959): Dick Tiger, (middleweight, (1962 – 1963) and Bash Ali (cruiser weight, 1987).

He is currently a unified world heavyweight champion, having held the IBF title since 2016, and the WBA (Super) and IBO titles since April 2017. At regional level he held the British and Commonwealth heavyweight titles from 2015 to 2016.

The Nigeria Boxing Federation (NBF) usually features prominently in most of the international and open championships. In the Olympic games, Nigeria have prominent boxers and many others who have done the country proud in the game of boxing.

These are Nojim Maiyegun (Tokyo 1964), Isaac Ikhouria (Munich 1972), Peter Konyegwachie (Los Angeles 1984), David Izonritei and Richard Igbineghu (Barcelona 1992) and Duncan Dokiwari (Atlanta 1996) Also, as early as 1976, some Nigerian Boxers such as Davidson Andeh, Christopher Ossai and Monday Addis, won most of their fights during the National team’s tour of the defunct German Democratic Republic and the Scandinavian countries.

Athletics

Nigeria’s athletes have also won Olympic medals in long jump, 4 X 400m relay and several other track and field events. Nigerian athletics have been constantly in the international spotlight, with dozens of Nigerians becoming professional athletes in Europe and America.

The Athletics Federation of Nigeria (AFN) runs majority of the athletic competitions in the country. Primary and secondary school sports are, however, organized by the Ministries of Education in each state.

PARA-SPORTS

In the area of sports for the physically challenged, Nigeria has made her mark at both continental and Olympic levels. Several medals have been won by Nigerian athletes in the various sports, particularly, power lift events.

Swimming

Once a popular traditional recreational activity, swimming is today a sport for which communities like the Ijaws, Itsekiris, Abohs and Urhobos and other riverine areas in the country are renowned. The sport is officially conducted under the control of the Nigeria Swimming Federation.

The country is blessed with lots of talents and has been able to develop these through the construction of standard swimming pools across the country and through the sponsorship of competitions by government and individuals.

Modern Wrestling

Wrestling as a sport has been practised by Nigerians all the time. It is organized during special occasions, notably the new yam festivals, anniversaries of ancient wars or commemoration of local heroes.

Towns and villages or sections of the same town compete with one another in wrestling contests. No trophies or prizes are given to winners.

The honour of being a champion is the reward. Good wrestlers are usually held in high esteem in their communities.

There are good Nigerian wrestlers especially who are acclaimed world titleholders like Power Uti. The Nigeria Boxing Federation is in charge of the sport nationwide.

Tennis

This game is played in all parts of the country and has gained popularity since world-class players like Nduka Odizor emerged.

There are tennis courts in almost every city in the country and many more are being constructed. Several championships in the country attract a good number of international tennis stars from many African countries, the United Kingdom, Russia, Italy and the United States of America. Besides, the Nigerian Lawn Tennis Association has featured in a number of international open championships.

Other Sports

The Country’s performances in many other sports are quite encouraging. In team sports like Hockey, Basketball, Handball and Volleyball the Country’s teams have been victorious in many international competitions.

Cricket, cycling and Judo are other sports which are gaining popularity in the country. Badminton and Squash Racket are the most recent sports where Nigerians have performed creditably in the last few years.

So far so good in Nigeria sports, though there is not much to celebrate, rather than thinking about how to improve Nigeria sports, which is the major avenue to train Nigeria youth and take their mind away from social devices.

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