`The UNILAG NUGA Games is not about Unilag alone. It is about the country. It is about exposure for our students at the local and International levels. It is about letting the world know that our sporting activities in Nigeria is still alive.`
These are the inspiring words of the Vice Chancellor of the University of Lagos, Professor Oluwatoyin Ogundipe during the UNILAG NUGA Press Conference held at the Senate Chambers of the prestigious university on Tuesday, 9th November 2021. The Press Conference was held to give an update on preparations for the event scheduled to hold from 16th to 26th of March next year and to answer any questions.
The NUGA Games is a biennial competition that features universities from across the country gathered in the host university to participate in different games. Although, the Games has the potentials to become the platform for the identification and development of talents, a pathway to professionalism for student athletes and a source of commercial returns, the tournament has been unable to live up to expectations as compared with college sports in other developed regions.
Over the years, the tournament has been marred by inconsistent hosting, lack of institutional support especially for participating athletes, dilapidated sport infrastructure, shabby organisation and lack of fund. The Games is also losing relevance among the younger generation of students. Prof. Ogundipe intends to address all of these with the UNILAG NUGA Games and restore glory to the tournament as envisioned by the founding university back in 1966.
The first step the Professor took was to appoint the Group Chief Executive of The Temple Company, Idris Olorunnimbe, as Project Lead. Mr Olorunnimbe brings to bear his expertise and experience leading a sport, creative and marketing agency. The Temple Company has organised world-class events including The Monarch Experience and Sunny on Sunday, managed athletes including Seye Ogunleye, Seun Adigun and Kenneth Omeruo, and worked with international organisations such as the NBA, Youtube, Global Citizens, Zee Network etc.
As Project Lead, Mr Olorunnimbe is expected to “galvanise technical and financial support necessary for the success of the game” and support in the areas of equipment and state-of-the-art facilities. For him, it is such an honour to be seen as such a worthy ambassador of his alma mata, as the task presents a wider platform for more contribution.
Prof. Ogundipe also announced that the UNILAG NUGA Games is tagged “A City NUGA” which will see some of the games played in sport facilities across the State. This will “provide the athletes an opportunity to experience the dynamic culture that characterizes the Lagos State metropolis, one of Africa’s largest economic hubs”.
This strategic move will also guarantee the endorsement of the Lagos State Government through its Ministry of Youth and Social Development, Ministry of Tourism, Art and Culture, and the Lagos State Sports Commission. It also a means to evoke the interest of the residents of the State and provide entertainment option for Lagosians who will get a chance to cheer their respective institutions. Playing in the facilities in the state, such as the newly renovated Mobolaji Johnson Arena, and in front of a large audience will inspire the athletes to deliver their best.
If properly executed, these plans will help Unilag deliver a one-of-its-kind NUGA Games, raise the bar for subsequent editions, rekindle people’s interest in the Games and restore relevance to the competition. The Games will feature one hundred and thirty six (136) universities with over 10,000 students and officials expected in Lagos.
For the Vice Chancellor, delivering the best ever NUGA Games is equally a test of will for the institutions. One they must not fail.
“People will know that the University of Lagos can manage sporting activities successfully and also manage any task successfully in the country once given the opportunity to"
Perhaps, we should look forward to Unilag hosting the world university games - FISU - in the near future.
To officially flag-off the countdown to the event, the university will relaunch the official mascot - Kaddi, release the UNILAG NUGA theme song and light the Torch of Unity on Friday, 26th of November 2021 at the J.F. Ade Ajayi Auditorium by 4pm.