Coaches and athletes at a swimming competition in Ibadan, Oyo State, have called for more support for swimming at all levels in Nigeria to promote latent talents of swimmers across all the states of the Federation. The competition, which was the first of its kind in Oyo State, featured competition at both primary and secondary schools level after several weeks of training at the Premier Hotel Ibadan.
Over 100 kids between the ages of six and 15 participated in various categories during the tournament, exhibiting different mastery of various styles in swimming.
Some of the coaches, teachers, and parents, who spoke to at the event, applauded the initiative and called on the government to support the event to make it an annual competition with a broader perspective and better funding.
A teacher of one of the schools present at the competition, David Ogundairo said:
“I think this is the first time such thing will be happening in Ibadan after many long years and not only that, they decided to bring secondary school primary schools.
The spirit behind catch them young is really taking effect today and I have seen some past internationale today who will also give the children impetus to want to do well. So, I want to say a very big thank you to the organisers for leaning backward. When you look at competitions like this, this is where you can boast of more than 20 medals on international level rather than football where you have almost 23 players playing for just one gold medal.
“I want to say that the government and corporate organisations should also partner with them (the organisers),”
A female coach, who also trained some of the participants, Mrs. Olabiyi Olafunke, said “it is not easy because at times we come here thrice in a week for rehearsals.Also, we come here Saturdays to take them swimming in preparation for this competition. This will be the first competition they would be taking part in.
“I think that with all these things that they (her students) were able to do (for a local competition) they will do more if they get a chance to go for other competitions,” she said.
A representative of the Oyo State Sports Council, Mr. Damolekun Omodele, said: “it is really a great project and it will involve the Sports council and the coaches.
“It has a very wonderful future because with the likes of these children coming up, it is now high time Oyo State government created a project that would develop these young ones that we are now seeing”.
Some of the participants, who won medals at the event, said they are interested in the prospect of pursuing a career in swimming.
After the tournament, Bellama Brown, 9 said: “I am happy at least all the effort I have put paid off. I want to become an Olympic swimmer and I want to invite people into swimming for a great exercise”.
Another winner, Ifeoluwa Daramola, said: “If I felt that I needed swimming to be a part of my life, I needed to improve myself and find some competition knowing that I am not the only one that knows how to swim. So it has improved my teamwork skills and my swimming skills”.