22nd May, 2014
The conception of the South-West Secondary Schools Championship tagged DAWN Games was the brainchild of the south-west Governors’ Forum to use sports to showcase the talents of youths of the region.
The governors set up the DAWN Commission in 2013 with the aim to restore the south-west region to global sports competitiveness witnessed when the late Chief Obafemi Awolowo was the region’s Premier.
The DAWN Games is contained in the Development Agenda for Western Nigeria (DAWN). The idea is to use sports to create a forum for the youth to harness their natural talents as a tool for regional and social integration, for healthy rivalry and mass participation in sports at the grassroots level. The Games is to be organised rotationally amongst the six western states annually.
The maiden edition of the DAWN Games, which is currently going on in Lagos State, will end on Friday with 2,000 athletes and officials from all the south-west states except Ondo State participating.
Twelve of the 19 sports approved by Nigeria School Sports Federation, NSSF, are featuring in the ongoing games. The athletes have been participating in sports such as Athletics, Badminton, Basketball, Chess, Football, Gymnastics, Scrabble, Swimming, Table Tennis, Tennis, Taekwondo and Volleyball.
Since 16 May, the three centres hosting the Games, Agege Stadium, Mobolaji Johnson Sports Complex, Rowe Park, Yaba and the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere, Lagos as well as the Games Village at NYSC Camp at Iyana Ipaja, have been a beehive of activities with the young secondary school students, most of whom are in Lagos for the first time, fighting to win medals for their states and making new friends.
The South-West Coordinator of National Sports Commission, NSC, Steve Olarinoye described the initiative of the DAWN Games as a good attempt by the western region of the country to develop sports at the grassroots, while the competition is a veritable ground to discover budding talents who can make Team Nigeria at the national level to prosecute international competitions. He said young athletes could be discovered at the games to take over from ageing stars.
The dearth of tournaments has always been the bane of sports development in Nigeria and a championship such as the DAWN Games came at the right time not only to keep the youth of the south-west region busy, but to also foster a socio-cultural relationship and cement the bond of oneness which the western region was known for in the past.
But, it is unfortunate to note that Ondo State opted out of the competition, the reason which might not be unconnected with the political affiliation of the state to the Labour Party while rest of the states in the region are in All Progressives Congress. Putting politics above the interest of youths would be counterproductive to the future of these students especially those who are looking forward to be great sports stars in Ondo State.
We believe also that a tournament like this should be organised by other regions in the country, while the NSC at the Federal level should come up with inter-regional championship that will be another veritable ground to discover budding stars apart from other schools sports competitions in the country.