Almost a year ago, I wrote a piece in this column on the need for the Kwara State Ministry of Education and Human Capital Development to compel Primary and Secondary Schools (public and private) in the state to fix a date for inter-house sports in their academic calendar.
Interestingly, it seemed most of the schools had conform to my suggestion as they have put aside academic activities over the last few weeks to host inter-house sports.
Not left out of the event are schools that held the competition for the first time in their history. Also, some schools who last held the event about five to ten years ago gathered resources within a short time to break the gremlin.
Similarly, some of the schools without adequate facilities to host the competition have had to make use of space and infrastructure in their neighbourhood.
For those with bigger and sizable budget for the inter-house sports, they adopted the Kwara State Stadium, Ilorin as their venue.
From Offa to Oro, Edidi, Erin-Ile, Kaiama, Baruten, Ilesha-Baruba and the capital city, Ilorin, there is hardly any week passing in the last two months without news of at least a school holding its inter-house sports.
For pupils and students who normally play truancy or skip classes, they made sure they were the first to arrive the school premises as soon as their head teacher announced a date for the inter-house sports. For those pupils, inter-house sports was an opportunity to atone for their poor academic records and a time to endear themselves into the hearts of their teachers.
Aside the fact that inter-house sports do increase attendance in schools, it helps in character training just as it helps competitors to control their emotions.
Additionally, inter-house sports or any other recreational activity in schools promotes healthy rivalry and ensures mass participation among pupils. Inter-house sports also serve as platform to select representatives for any extracurricular activities of the school.
When inter-house sports is regularly hosted by our schools, there is the tendency of unearthing budding talents that will later represent and win laurels for the country in international competitions.
More importantly, inter-house sports enhance pupils learning and thinking abilities. For pupils to attain higher heights in their academics, the various schools in the state must imbibe sports as part of their extra-curricular activities.
However, all the aforesaid benefits come at a price as success in sports is a function of individual will and supportive society.
Sports at any level is an expensive venture which schools must invest in to get the best out of their pupils. While going round recently, I discovered some schools (mostly private) have no play ground or sports facilities, a situation that has continued to deny the pupils the opportunity of running around or explore their environment. I have struggled to fathom how those schools secured approval from the Ministry of Education.
For all-round development, children should be able to explore their environment and build a wild imagination that they will later need in life, otherwise, they may find sports culture alien anytime they get to the secondary school.
However, inter-house sports when not well organised or managed sometimes turn to mayhem.
A number of lives have been lost and many injured after violence broke out during inter-house sports in the past. Some of those mayhem resulted from issues that may have been avoided with proper plans in place.
For any school that may want to organise a rancor-free inter-house sports, such school must ensure adequate security measures are in place especially if such school is a secondary school. There must be proper crowd control mechanism as some miscreants often invade schools to cause chaos during such competitions. Some of those miscreants sometimes pose as students of schools invited for 4*100 relay race.
Also, the officiating during inter-house sports, must be devoid of favouritism and the competitors must be taken through the rules of the game. Other challenges which should be attended to is fanaticism and lack of spirit of sportsmanship.