The management of Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, has announced some of its sporting teams would not participate in the 2018 edition of the West African University Games (WAUG) championship due to paucity of funds.
WAUG is a two-week event scheduled to start on 0ctober 31. The 2018 edition will hold at the University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT).
The university has a vibrant sports culture greatly motivated by an expansive sports centre. It has hosted three editions of Nigerian University Games Association (NUGA) championships in 1970, 1984 and 2013.
According to the Director of the university sports’ council, Abu Adamu, in a meeting of all athletes held on Sunday, the teams were dropped as a result of financial constraints.
“We tried our best for our athletes to participate as some of the teams were earlier informed that they will be representing the school in UNIPORT and they’ve been training rigorously. But along the line, when we submitted our budget, the school cannot afford about N15 million to sponsor the athletes.
“I have met with the coaches and we have decided to drop all the team sports because the money from the school can only cater for 40 athletes out of the individual sports like Athletics, Badminton, Swimming, Tennis.”
The team events that qualified for the event as a result of their performance in the last NUGA games played in Makurdi were dropped. They include: Basketball (female), Handball (male), Volleyball (male) and Football (male) teams.
“The teams have been dropped and there’s nothing anyone can do about it,” Mr Adamu said.
PREMIUM TIMES gathered that the school initially budgeted for over 100 athletes and had registered their details for the event but is yet to conclude some athletes’ registration. For the event, each individual is expected to pay about N61,200.
The official apologised to the affected teams and promised that the university will compensate them.
PREMIUM TIMES earlier reported that 60 universities have so far registered for the games.
Reginald Ogali, a professor and Chairman of the Local Organising Committee for the games, told journalists on Monday in Port Harcourt that 85 universities would compete in 15 different events.
“The events are athletics, swimming, judo, tennis, badminton, table tennis, squash and chess. Others are football, javelin, volleyball, handball, basketball, Hockey and cricket.”
Meanwhile, the news has led to complaint amongst the students.
An athlete, Obuseh Prince, narrated how he was training rigorously for WAUG even after being hospitalised for two weeks.
“I carried a bandage of shame. and they still wore me a jersey for a friendly match of which I played full time. Sacrifices that were hidden in the open.”
Also, one of the athletes that plays handball, Akeem Lasisi, stated that the university has no excuse for not sponsoring her athletes because students pay for sports levy every session.
According to Mr Lasisi, the sports levy is enough to take care of the international competition, “which is the most expensive and comes up once in every four years”.
“Why will they deny students the opportunity, which comes just once in four years, when the sports levy is more than enough to cover the expenses?”
Meanwhile, Jerry Adeoye, a former lawn tennis captain and a recent graduate of the university, urged the athletes to remain resolute and fight for their rights.
“Our sport levy is not for funding research, it is for sport. We are not Olympic champions, we are students who have sacrificed our time, money, blood, sweat, comfort for OAU.
“I remember my swear and sweat, despite being an engineering undergraduate. All for OAU!,” he said on Monday.
In an analysis by PREMIUM TIMES, asides all other IGRs, the school makes about N30 million from sports levies every session from the 30,000 students (according to the statistics provided on the school website) who each pay a mandatory sum of N1000.
School Calls For Calm
However, in reaction to the students’ complaints, Mr Adamu said stated the sports’ council has also pushed a similar argument at several meetings with the university management. He assured that “everything will get better”.
He said the appointment of a new Bursar for the university, Samson Ayansina, in May is one of the laudable steps taken by the Eyitope Ogunbodede-led administration to help sports development.
“The new bursar has told us to present our budget for 2019, which we’ve done and will yield results in due time. But unfortunately, WAUG didn’t fall in the 2019 budget because it’s a 2018 event,” he told PREMIUM TIMES.