By : Olamide O. Abe

Ogun State Ministry of Youths and Sports unveiled the plans and modalities of the 2021 Gateway Tertiary Institution Games (GATIG) during the press conference held at the MKO Abiola Stadium, Abeokuta on Tuesday, 6 October 2021.

The Honorable Commissioner for Youths and Sports, Dr. Oluwadare Kehinde flagged off the 4th edition of GATIG – tagged “Sports for healthy development” – alongside members of the Main Organizing Committee (MOC), Ogun State Sport Council and the Ministry’s Permanent Secretary.

Kehinde enjoined all the students to participate fully in the events and give the competition a deserving concentration and utmost determination as the state is on a mission to aid their development beyond the borders of Nigeria.

“Upon my assumption to duty as the Honourable Commissioner for Youth & Sports, I promised our teeming youths that we will return our dear State to its enviable sports heritage amongst the comity of States in Nigeria.” He said. “You will recall that the 3rd edition of this game was held in 2009 which was precisely 12 years ago. I am therefore extremely happy that we are gathering here tonight to flag off activities for the 4th edition holding between Tuesday 5th & Saturday 9th October, 2021. “A well-defined sports event like GATIG competition has been designed as a way to ensure that our tertiary school students develop the right mental, rational, emotional, physical, and psychological strength to build a great and eventful life.  “We hope to use this Gateway Tertiary Institution Games to discover raw talents amongst the students of our tertiary institutions in Ogun State and assist them in horning their skills for national and global prominence.” The commissioner concluded.

The Director of Sports, Ogun State Sport Council, Mrs. Folakemi Rotimi and the Chairman of the Main Organizing Committee (MOC), Prince Adetunji Onatolu, further hashed out their plans to monitor and nurture the discovered talent during the games ahead of the upcoming 2022 National Sports Festival.

The Director said, “This is a catchment state where we develop athletes from the grassroots. After the discovery, we nurture them to stardom and follow them up to become national and international athletes.

“Previous GATIG has helped Ogun State tremendously because most of the athletes nurtured by the sport council are now in foreign countries.” We’ve had a lot of examples, like the just concluded Tokyo Olympics, Ogun was one of the state’s that won medal for Nigeria.

Shedding more light to this, Adetunji Onatolu said, “Developed countries with great strengths in sports puts so much efforts in utilizing their students in higher institutions and we got 45% of our athletes from the higher institutions in the first edition. Since then, we had three other editions and it went moribund.” He added that one of the motive for revival of the games is that “we are looking forward to the coming festival in Delta state next year and it will give us so much opportunity to delve into the archive of higher institutions as a road map to discover more talents that will represent Ogun state at the upcoming sport festival.“

During the course of the event, the four institutions that will be participating in the event was revealed as follows: Abraham Adesanya Polytechnics (AAPOLY), Tai Solarin University of Education (TASUED), Tai Solarin College of Education (TASCE) and Olabisi Onabanjo University (OOU) while the participation of Ogun State College of Health Technology (OSCOHTECH) is still tentative.

Recall that Ogun State has the highest number of tertiary institutions in Nigeria, boasting more citadel of learning (universities, polytechnics and colleges of education) than any other states at the last count.

Onatolu justifies the exclusion of all the institutions in the state’s capital and those in other regions, citing disparities in the academic calendar of the targeted institutions.

“During the first edition of GATIG, only five institutions registered and we had up to 8-10 institutions in other subsequent editions. We started the journey for this edition three months ago and we had 28 higher institutions in attendance.

“All the schools were coming for the meeting regularly but they pulled out because of their calendars. We are having 4 or 5 because of the unexpected situation of things, some are in exam session and we cannot say sport should disturb the academic pursuit, we want sport to go along with educational pursuit.”

Onatolu reiterated that these will not stop them to discover galaxy of talents that are hidden in schools because “some of the participating teams are prominent universities in NUGA and they went as far as taking part in WAWU.”

He continued, “What we are having now will be a plus for us towards the upcoming festival, though we have our athletes already for the festival but we are delving to the higher institutions because of the researches that we made and add them to the athletes we have on ground, then our position in the festival will rise.

“We made comparative analysis of the strength and weaknesses of the state because we want to gather medals at the upcoming festival, as we go along with the roadmap of our program.”

It was confirmed that the three-day event will feature 17 sports: Athletics, Abula, Judo, Badminton, Basketball, Boxing, Chess, Football, Handball, Judo, Squabble, Squash, Swimming, Taekwando, Table tennis, tennis and volleyball.

The four venues scheduled for the games are MKO Abiola Stadium, Alake Sports Centre, Olusegun Obasanjo Presidential Library (OOPL) and Abeokuta Sports Club.

Alake Sports Centre, Ijeja will host the opening ceremony on Wednesday, 6 October with the game of Badminton before basketball, handball, table tennis and Volleyball follows at the same venue.

Games will go on simultaneously in other venues too as both the main and side pitches of MKO Abiola Stadium, Kuto will host football while taekwondo and tennis will be played at OOPL, Oke-Mosan and Abeokuta Sports Club, Oke-Ilewo respectively.

Eight new games will be played on day two with MKO Stadium hosting Athletics and Abula. Alake Sports Centre will host Ayo, Boxing and chess while judo, squash and swimming will go down at OOPL.

The preliminary games started on day one will be concluded at the action-packed finale on Friday as students will battle it out in badminton, basketball, handball, scrabble, table tennis and volleyball at the multi-sport Centre in Ijeja.

The student-athletes will also use their tautly strung rackets to bounce the small-sized ball over the net of the rectangular court of Abeokuta Sports Club while action also concludes in the popular round leather game at MKO Abiola Stadium.