The management of the Universal Basic Education Board, UBEB, FCT Abuja has commended the Nigeria Union of Teachers, NUT, Abuja Municipal branch for hosting a successful junior secondary schools grassroots sports competition.
The commendation was given by Mrs Odieke Theresa Nkechi, Deputy Director, Core Curricula Activities, UBEB, Abuja in an interview.
Mrs Odieke who described sports as vital activities in a child’s growth, advised the NUT to expand their scope in next year’s edition and start preparations early stressing that UBEB will give maximum support to the wellbeing of pupils and students.
“I monitored everyday’s activity of the competition to the end. For us to give permission for that event to hold, the Director must give approval based on our recommendations which took into account the safety and benefits of the events to the children.
“That event captured 27 schools. It was like a talent hunt; we want to catch them young and build up athletes for the FCT and the nation in general.
My Director went there on the last day and gave out prizes. He encouraged and commended them for their participation. He promised them that the board would take it up from there while schools should conduct their respective sporting activities.
“The NUT requested for 47 schools but 27 were approved and they all participated. NUT did a good job in organising the competition. Perhaps, in their next preparation which they said would be for Senior Secondary Schools, they may have to expand their scope and plan it better and capture so many things. They did not have long planning for the first edition as most of the sponsors could not come in as expected. So we advise them that to capture large pupils and students, they need good time for planning, good sponsors and the children will enjoy it more.
On the issue of reduction or lack of inter-house sporting activities in the school, Mrs Odieke said it is never true that inter-house sports competition has been downplayed in the school. She stressed that her department is in full control of all core activities in junior public schools and stated that the schools have been holding their inter-house sports and extracurricular activities such as cultural week.
“It is not true that inter-house sport has gone down the drain in our schools, especially public schools. Our public school organise inter-house sports. Last week, we endorsed and sent out letters to all the 165 schools under our watch, directing them to forward their proposals and dates when they are going to have their inter-house. We do it every year. We send out the information so that we don’t have clashes.
“Inter-house competition is not done without our supervision. Deputy Directors, Senior Officers as well as Personal Assistants are assigned to go round and oversee which school is doing inter-house sports and what they are doing. Reports are also submitted.
“When the schools send in their proposals, we give have schedules for and them dates. If we have clashing dates, then we will rearrange so that we have space for our officials to be able to be in one school or the other depending on the area that they are. We can assign senior staff who lives around there to oversee the activities.
“Every year we give out the schedule and as soon as they bring in their proposals, the Director will assign the supervisor to go there and see what they are doing.
“Inter-house sporting activities happen every year. It has not died down. Remember that activities have increased in the schools too. Now we have cultural days, department weeks. Sometimes they merge them such that within the cultural week, they will have inter-house sports. Inter-house still holds, it is an annual event.
On the importance of sports in a child’s growth and development, Mrs Odieke stated “sports help a child in mental, physical and all-round build up. There is a saying that all works and no play make Jack a dull boy. You cannot do all academies without exercising the body. When you exercise the body, it keeps you alert; keeps your body fit. It helps in building the child physically.
“As I told them in the stadium (during the Grassroots Athletics Competition), it keeps the mind busy all the time. Today we have cultism and all kinds of social vices in the school. A child who finishes academic works and goes into sports, what time does the child has to go to a bush meeting? The child will be tried and be looking for time to rest.
“Sports also have a place even in our family and societal lives. It curbs a lot of vices. It helps us in every way not only the children.
“As an individual, I engage in exercise every morning before going to work. It makes me feel good and alert. Even as adults, we need exercise talk more of children who are growing up. Sport is all-rounder and it is good for us both physically, mentally, emotionally and in keeping them away from social vices that are prevalent in our society,” she concluded