By Okechukwu Chukwuebuka
Sports and education are intricately interwoven – one promotes the other and vice versa. One is also embedded in the other as sports form part of education, just as education provides the tools by which different aspects of sports manifest their practices and activities.
Sports have been part of the existence of man, a form by which man exercises himself. Farming is a case in point. Man utilized sports to satisfy his aesthetic needs, for relaxation and healthy living. It came to a point when the crude and haphazard way of practising sports was formalized according to Netbet.
Sports are the various activities which man engages in from childhood to adulthood which promote the acquisition of mental, physical, spiritual, aesthetic, emotional and educational well being to make the individual contribute meaningfully to the development of the society.
Sports are divided into the following categories: athletics, gymnastics, individual/dual sport, team sports, rhythms dance, martial arts and combative sports. There are other types of sports like: football, volleyball and so on. Aspects of sports are designed and translated into subject as Physical and Health Education which forms part of education curriculum in Nigeria.
The following are the objectives of sports: physical fitness, social efficiency, skill acquisition, emotional stability, life career, cultural development and mental development. The concept of education on the other hand is the systematic process of acquisition of knowledge, skills, abilities and information through informal formal and non-formal teaching and learning.
In order for the body of knowledge to be acquired to be properly organized, synthesized and formalized, educational contents are divided into subjects which are in turn developed into curriculum for ease of teaching and learning at various educational levels.
Sports have taken very crucial place in the education and day to day activities of the people of Nigeria since pre-colonial era. However it was formally introduced by the British colonial administration into the school curriculum in 1904. Since then sporting activities have been embraced at school inter-house sports, inter-school competitions, career progression through the teaching and learning of physical and health education, recreational clubs, football and other games associations at local, state, national and international levels.
Sporting activities were remodelled into a subject as Physical and Health Education and included into the educational curriculum by the British government for muscle training among the military men and the police; the main reason was for the physical fitness of the soldiers so that they can be able to properly defend the country during wars.
Advantages of Sports to Education and Nation Building in Nigeria
Sporting activities have so many effects on educational development and nation building in Nigeria. Some of the effects are physical, physiological, psychological, economical, emotional and social in nature. For instance, traditional sports in Nigeria plays vital role in integrating the citizens in certain cultural rites and ceremonies. It gives them sense of belonging, engender unity and co-operation among peer-groups across the country; such sporting activities include wrestling, boxing, acrobatics, Ayo, horse racing, climbing, throwing and swimming.
Sporting activities feature during festivals, initiation ceremonies into a society of choice, harvesting of crops etc. Different aspects of sports, physical and health education have varying benefits to human endeavours and existence. For instance, recreational activities are minor exercises which people engage in to relax their muscles and emotions after stressful labour and daily jobs.
These activities like gardening, knitting, weaving playing ludo or cards, singing, dancing, reading or writing for pleasure, add enjoyment and longevity to the lives of the participants and in turn promote abilities and skills which is a major objective of education.
Challenges of Sports in the Development of Education in Nigeria:
Sports or Physical and Health Education like every other aspect of education in Nigeria have faced diverse challenges, constraints or problems. Some of such challenges are inadequate funding,
mismanagement of funds, lack of integrity, inadequate personnel and
dwindling infrastructural facilities.
Chukwuebuka wrote in from Nekede in Owerri, Imo state.