By Yusuf Mutiu Olaitan
My interest to be either an athlete or a sports journalist started, was nurtured and established while I was in secondary school – pay attention to the keyword INTEREST. I was a boy with this urge for football while I was in primary school, I only played for the sake of it those days. No goals. No direction. No zeal. No passion. No grit. Just playing for the sake of it. Yes, the talent was there, the tenacity was there, there was the time – but talent was never enough, if talent was enough, Paul Gascoigne would have been the greatest footballer in Europe – or the world!
I was admitted to a public secondary school in my community, one of the things that enticed me to a public school was the fact that I was aware of of various sporting events been organized amongst secondary schools in the state. There was the Milo Basketball championship, there was Shell football tournament, there was Lubcon football tournament – these and many more.
I loved the fact that I was privileged and because of my determination got absorbed into the football team of my secondary school. And that was where it all started to get rosy, cozy, and booming!
In my fourth year, I was selected amongst the 21 man team that will represent the school in a round robin Shell football tournament. We started on the right foot, defeating three schools in our journey to the last eight where my team was unfortunate to be drawn against an ever blistering Kwara Football Academy team. You all know what the result would be at the end, actually, you guessed right, of course… Of course!
We were beating by two goals to nil. But guess what? The result was a very encouraging one. Amongst the team that played against Kwara Football Academy, we were the team that could only shipped in two goals against them – not even the last finalist could hold them, the runners up lost by three goals to one – that was Army Day Secondary School, Sobi.
The management of KFA were very wowed by the doggedness of my team that we were given seven pairs of the Academy jerseys – reason being that how could a secondary school could be so brilliant and determined to go shoulders to shoulders with an academy that only teaches football to their students. And that was the moment. That was it for me. Those KFA athletes I played against became my motivation to pursue a career in football.
Now let’s take a look at it, can we have the exact number of kids who had through the secondary school sports tournament decided to follow a career in sports. Who knows how many kids in and outside Ilorin had chosen an inspiration from the inter secondary schools tournament.
Whatever the motivations and inspirations, that was all in the past. There isn’t anything like inter-secondary schools tournament again today. Sad. What has gone wrong! Is it that all the supportive organizations and companies we had in the past have developed cold feet? If that’s the case, what’s the course for the sudden back out? Should we say there are not kids who are passionate about sports in our various secondary schools against? Is it that the government are not giving this organizations the right environment to thrive? Whatever answers anyone would provide – negatives. We must not continue like this. We need inter-secondary schools tournament back in our state.
A plea from me, if this virtual plea from me wouldn’t yield positive result, I won’t mind prostrating before every sports stakeholders in the state just to have the inter schools sports competition back in our schools – The ministry for youth and sports, Special Adviser to the Governor on sports, Companies, Multinational organizations, School principals, sports commission and all other sports stakeholders. Please, do well to return Inter schools sports tourney in Kwara state.