While the rest of the sports world has quickly adapted to the new normal that is sports in a pandemic with COVID 19. One aspect of sports that has not gained as much attention and that has struggled more than others, is the University sports system.

Priority has been given to professionals as sports gradually returned in 2020, but very few questions have been raised on the effect of COVID 19 on the university sports system and how they have adapted or not in this period. 

 The World University Sports Federation (FISU) which is the body in charge of university sports, adapted to promoting online specific events and encouraged its members to do the same. Some of these included Online seminars, competitions and challenges. 

The African University Sports Federation towed the same line by engaging its member associations in activities online and the most recent being the 1st African University Mind Sports championships.

Glitzsports.com spoke to some of the athletes who participated in the event, and some others to tell us how they have fared in 2020 as student athletes.

Chigozie Nnadi, Chess Player

Chess Player, Chigozie Nnadi, from the University of Lagos, Nigeria, Described the pandemic as the worst thing to have ever happened to sports in his life time, “The most difficult thing this year for me would be the halt of tournaments due to the pandemic, but I loved that I got the chance to play a Grandmaster tournament (FASU Mind Championship) and at least measure the difference in strength between us and the fact that the tournament was 99% clean of cheaters. Kudos to the organizers, also I’ll love if they monitored all players as a member of my team encountered a cheat, I think that can be improved”

Mohammed Alsori Alharary

Mohammed Alsori Alharary from the University of Tripoli in Libya, described sports during the pandemic boring and unattractive “though chess is efficiently played online, I preferred the face-to-face meeting and interaction with opponents than staying online to compete”

Precious Ozegbe

“As a student- athlete the most difficult thing has been not being able to play physical tournaments due to the lockdown and restrictions. I’ve had to train personally too all through and at some point, you actually need someone stronger to put you through a couple of things but there hasn’t been a chance for that as school is not in session.”  Said Precious Ozegbe a chess player from the university of Lagos Nigeria.

Bright Moyo

According to Bright Moyo, from the university of the Great Zimbabwe University, “Corona virus has affected sports as a whole, and in chess I believe for a chess player to improve, it should be at live classical games because these events motivate players to prepare well and improve their chest, but because of the virus all the games were cancelled. Although there are online platforms like chess.com and lichess.com, it is not all of us who are privileged and have access to data or Wi-Fi which essentially limits are active participation”. 

Ayanleke Stella

2019, Gold medalist in the 4x100m relay in the U20 African Championship, Ivory Coast, Ayanleke Stella a student of the University of Lagos, described university sports in the pandemic as extremely horrible “COVID 19 affected sports everywhere, for university athletes, schools, training centers and gyms were on lockdown so we couldn’t train.  I had to improvise using water bottles as dumbbells, I also did sit ups and cardio around my home to keep fit.

Adetunji Adeyimika

Adetunji Adeyimika, from Nigeria, a student of the University of Lagos Studying Electrical Engineering, said, “It’s been hard to stay motivated during the pandemic. I have decided against competitive play and would probably stop playing chess totally. And this thought was fueled due to the inactivity during the pandemic”

Sholola Shuab

COVID 19 has really affected university sports this year, Sholola Shuab a student of the University of Lagos said; we haven’t done anything, and it’s a big deal, I hope things go back to normal next year, with lots of inter-collegiate championships to help us development at the right pace we desire”

Brian Gishuchi Chege

Brian Gishuchi Chege a student of Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology (JKUAT) Kenya, said Chess and Chess players were not very affected by the pandemic as it was easy to switch the games to the online platform, “Yes most sports were halted and did not occur as they were supposed to, but I would like to thank FASU for organizing the chess tournament. They also put together many events during the period, thus, making us not feel left out. For chess players we were not affected as much as the other sports as chess can be played online, so most players just switched to the online version”.

Redemi Deborah

Redemi Deborah from the University of Lagos, also described COVID 19 as bad especially for university sports “This led to cancellation of universities competitions, sports camps and so on. Athletes who depend on for scholarships are left stranded, others who depend on sports as a form of socialization are now feeling isolated. So yes, COVID 19 has really affected sports in more ways than we can imagine”.

The African University sports Federation, in its attempt to keep its students engaged in 2020, embraced fully some online activities, like sports challenges and creating its first Mind sports championship playing chess, Bridge and Draught online. 

 They have also encouraged schools to help train their students as the continent prepares for the Universiade 2021 in Chengdu China.