Today, there are many children in Nigeria, who were born with innate sporting potentials, but lack the required avenues to showcase their skills. This drawback may negatively impact the sporting and economic future of the country if not tackled. KELECHI EWUZIE writes on how Guaranty Trust Bank through its various sports education initiatives is creating opportunities that enables school children to harness their potentials.
Nigeria, the largest economy in Africa by Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is grappling with a budging population of secondary school pupils looking for avenues to let out their innate skills, even as the country battle to address youth restiveness, idleness, illiteracy, growing number of out-of-school children among other issues.
It has become very worrisome that deficient school curricula and lack of proper investment in infrastructure for sporting activities have contributed to the failure of schools to provide their pupils with the appropriate outlets to exhibit their skills.
Physical and health education specialists are of the view that any country serious about preparing her future generation to be competitive across the globe will ensure her pupils are actively engaged not just in classroom work, but also in sporting aspects of learning from a very early age.
While most secondary schools in Nigeria in general and Lagos State in particular lay claims to having an effective physical and health education classes where they teach the pupils the rudiments of sports, serious efforts need to be channeled towards ensuring that practical football and other sporting education are taught in our schools. This will stimulate the revival of school sports in Nigeria as well as encourage the discovery of football and other sporting talents for the good of the country.
Industry watchers believed that it has become imperative that pupils across primary and secondary levels are provided with the opportunity to learn sports and if the right investment in sports development in schools are put in place, it will significantly improve the health and leadership characteristics of these pupils.
They opined that the pupils by engaging in these extra-curricular activities in school, stand to benefit from the innumerable opportunities available in the world of sports.
Indeed, it could be argued that very few organisations understand the critical role sports education could play in Nigeria’s quest to remaining relevant in the global sporting arena than Guaranty Trust Bank does.
This foremost African financial institution understands this connection that is why its sustainability strategy is underscored by continued investments in sports education. Guaranty Trust Bank’s drive is evident in its support for education programmes in-classroom, out-of-classroom, infrastructure development, students’ scholarship and teachers training across Africa.
In keeping with its mission of creating enduring partnerships for sustainable development, the bank through its Sports Education CSR initiative is propelled to discover talented footballers in schools across the geo-political zones in Nigeria.
A case in point was the Principals Cup which is a football competition for secondary schools, aimed at fostering camaraderie and identifying local football talents at grassroot level. The competition begins at the start of new academic sessions in secondary schools and ends mid-June of every year.
For Guaranty Trust Bank, the value of sports as an aid to personal development is not far-fetched. In 2009, through a public-private partnership with the Lagos State Government, it started the Principals Cup which has since been extended to Ogun State and Rivers State.
The vision of the bank for venturing into the Principals Cup was among other things to raise role models for the society as well as using sports as a tool to provoking academic excellence in secondary schools.
Again, the Principals Cup has since inception provided the platform to create football stars who has become Nigeria’s ambassadors as exemplified by Stephen Odey, who played in the second edition of GTBank-Lagos State Principals Cup where he was the captain of the winning Dairy Farm Senior Secondary School, Agege.
Segun Agbaje, managing director of Guaranty Trust Bank Plc opined that sport plays a major role in the development of life skills and the competition paves way for youths to cultivate their sporting talents and aptitudes, while fostering and building a healthier lifestyle at a critical stage in their lives.
Agbaje maintains that the outstanding performances on display annually by young pupils from participating schools in the competition spurs the bank to provide an avenue for the pupils to showcase their talents and passion for the game of football even as they remain committed to their academics.
Research has shown that as a financial institution that is committed to the development of sports education, Guaranty Trust Bank, a youth-oriented brand, maintains the lead in providing support for education and sports to enable young boys and girls explore their talents and reach for their dreams.
Also, GTBank is underscoring its commitment to sustainable development through sport education by not only providing a platform for pupils to excel, but also training sports teachers for greater efficiency.
The bank, has no doubt, through its educational initiatives have in over a decade seen it provide digital libraries and sporting infrastructure to schools in Lagos State and beyond while empowering pupils to pursue their dreams of engaging in sports.
Aside the Principals Cup, one other sporting initiative being championed by the bank is the GTBank Masters Cup an offset of the GTBank-Lagos State Principals Cup. The tournament was first conceived when the bank realised that grassroot football development was incomplete without the participation of all schools in Lagos state (private and public) especially those that dominated the Principals Cup over three decades ago, since its inception in 1954.
As a way to addressing this gap and ensuring full participation of all schools, the bank decided to create The Masters Cup in partnership with Lagos State First Generation Heritage College Association (LAFGHECA). This football tournament involves the heritage schools as well as other private schools.
To further strengthen the value chain of sports education in the country, the Camp GTBank programme was born. The initiative powered by this innovative financial institution commenced in 2011 as an annual event that takes place after the football season. The programme entails camping the selected students where they are taken through training sessions on formations, strategy, tactics, conditioning, instructions and physical exercises.
The programme involves former Super Eagles national team players and coaches who in the course of the training take the players through all the aspects of the game, expose them to modern rules and regulations and improve their physical and mental conditioning and position them to become professionals.
These ex-footballers will also offer lessons to the school coaches and sports instructors over a two-day period to develop and enhance their knowledge and technical competence.
“Given the amazing talents shortlisted for this programme and the quality of the coaches overseeing their development, I am confident that Camp GTBank will be a seedbed for the emergence of professional footballers who will go on to have very successful careers”, says Segun Agbaje.
He further said that this goes to the heart of the bank’s sports education initiatives, which are aimed at actively engaging the youths through sports while identifying, nurturing and grooming young football talents.
“At GTBank, we will continue to invest massively in youth development through education and sports in order to help more youths actualise their dreams and to also grow their personal confidence and make them become better team players,” Agbaje said.
The super cup is a tournament designed for the selection of the champion of champions for each season of the tournaments. The championship kicked off as a challenge between the winners of the Principals Cup and Masters Cup in the male and female categories but later metamorphosed into a challenge between the winners of the Ogun and Lagos State tournaments.
These initiatives among others are proofs of Guaranty Trust Banks commitment to sustainable development of human capital in sports education for Nigeria.
It is the belief of stakeholders in education and sport sectors that with intervention such as what Guaranty Trust Bank is currently undertaking, sports education will spur the creative energies of secondary school pupils across Nigeria and go a long way to unleashing and helping them discover the glamour of showcasing their footballing skills.