BusinessDay

Re-awakening school sports as a unifying catalyst

Presently, the Maltina brand is spending millions of naira as part of its CSR to revive the sports culture in schools nationwide. This is a welcome initiative as sports is seen as a unifying factor as well as an avenue for talent discovery. Daniel Obi assesses this initiative and its potential benefits to the Nigeria.

As Nigeria struggles to weld together various fabrics of the society, grow the economy and build infrastructure that will support growth, several brands across the country are lending a helping hand to ensure that the nation achieves its necessary milestones.

Many brands are commendably taking different nationalistic roles. The Maltina brand from the stables of the Nigerian Breweries, for instance, is doing much more in its characteristic manner of sharing happiness while playing its role in nourishing the body system.

Building cohesion through sports

With a deep understanding of the role of sports in achieving cohesion and unity that will engender national development, Maltina, a richly packed brand with essential vitamins and minerals, in 2020 began to re-ignite the hope of Nigerians in school sports in secondary schools nationwide.

This initiative tagged Maltina School Games, organized in partnership with the Nigerian School Sports Federation has – as part of its objectives to re-awaken the dying national sport culture at secondary schools- discover talents and also enhance the social and personal development of the students.

Fortunately, this initiative to re-foster sports, a game that is globally regarded as a unifying force, in Nigeria’s schools, is coming at a time when Nigerians are required to promote national unity for sustainable democracy.

Globally, experts recognize that “in an often divided world, sports is a unique and important connective tissue that binds people together, both across and within societies”. This is on the premise that sports foster a feeling of unity, national pride as cooperation can be built through sporting activities. For instance, Nigerians tend to forget their differences when the Super Eagles are playing at the international level.

Read Also: Maltina announces registration for School Games 2021

Maltina’s idea ties to the World Economic Forum’s discussion in 2018 of using sports to create a shared future in a fractured world. The Body stated, “as we think about the forums that unite us as people, regardless of background or beliefs, it is hard to think of many as powerful as the stadiums we fill to cheer for our favorite teams and players, or the fields where we play together for pleasure and exercise”.

It is expected that when sports is deployed, to bind and achieve cohesion at the youth level and bridge the gaps that divide us, Nigeria will steadily be on a march to achieving its desired unity. Through the Games, talents will be discovered and developed for national and international sports competitions.

Commendably, many schools are participating in the Maltina School Games, with friendships among the students and schools across regions and states created even in the competition.

The brand owners revealed that over 1,400 Secondary Schools across the four locations namely: Abuja, Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Bauchi States participated in the just concluded 2021 Maltina School Games. In this year’s edition, the athletes were divided into four categories according to their ages and classes; Junior Boys, Junior Girls, Senior Boys, and Senior Girls, and these athletes slugged it out in races as 100m, 200m, 400m, 4x100m, and 800m, as well as in Javelin, High Jump, Long Jump and shot-put with a total of 44 athletes from each state qualified to compete in the state finals

The competition produced a winner in each category and with a total of 4 winners (Junior Boy and Girls as well as Senior Girls and Boys) categories who were rewarded with whopping cash prizes up to N500,000 and other fabulous branded items.

The Games has impacted over 20 million students since 2020, bringing together student-athletes from across the country to compete in a series of track and field events for a chance to win cash prizes as well as digital devices.

Underscoring the importance of sports to education, health

In addition to bridging gaps through sports and creating unification among the youth, Maltina, after thorough thinking re-ignited the school’s games to teach students, outside the classroom, about teamwork, self-confidence, responsibility, self-discipline, and about life which involves losing and winning.

Fundamentally, introducing sports in schools go a long way to assist in preparing students to face the challenges of life. Sports as stated by experts enhance the physical and mental abilities of students and help them achieve their goals. It is believed that sports help in mental alertness.

“The training of the students starts right from the school level. Sports help develop values of mutual trust and cooperation. They help develop students’ capacities in taking instant decisions, and they enhance thought processes. The feeling of sportsmanship or sporting spirit, which develops in the sporting arena, teaches students to accept failure and to respect others”, a report by Eastwood College, Lebanon in 2019 said.

Through the School Games, Maltina is also exposing students to sports for best exercises. Health officials have often said that regular exercises help proper function of the body system, build a healthy heart, enhance blood circulation, reduce diabetes, and control weight. Maltina is therefore not only fostering a cohesive society through sports but building a healthy society for economic production.

Recently, the Minister of Sports, Sunday Akin Dare applauded the Maltina brand for its immense contribution to school sports development in the country.

“Indeed, the Maltina School Games has achieved what has been the need of the hour and that is to keep the spirit of sportsmanship alive in Nigeria”, he said.

Read Also: Nigerian teachers encouraged to enter for 2021 Maltina Teacher of The Year award

In the same spirit of sharing happiness, Maltina since 2015 introduced Maltina Teacher of the Year Award aimed at rewarding outstanding teachers who have relentlessly given themselves to building and shaping Nigeria’s future leaders. This is a CSR initiative of the brand under Nigerian Breweries-Felix Ohiwerei Education Trust to support Nigeria’s education and elevate it to a desirable standard.

Under Maltina Teacher of the Year, it has rewarded about 100 teachers and built classrooms in winning schools since 2015.

Many brands such as Maltina are not only responding to the often calls by government officials to businesses to join hands in building the nation, but they are playing patriotic roles as corporate citizens. It is also with the understanding that their brands will survive in a stronger nation.

Nelson Mandela, one-time South African president said in 2000: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where there was only despair.” This is also the message Maltina is preaching.

As world leaders who understand the unifying power of sports leverage it to engage with people and make conciliatory moves both within and outside nations, it is on this premise therefore that brands deserve a pat on the back for not only creating a platform for handshakes across regions but developing talents and building a sports attitude in the youth for the healthiness of the society.

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