Thrills, glamour of WAUG-UniPort 2018
Before the commencement of the 14th West African University Games, tagged WAUG-UniPort 2018, the host institution, University of Port Harcourt, promised to display its strength as the commander-in-chief as far as sporting activities are concerned in the sub region. It also promised to host the best ever games in history of the competition.
“As a University, we are hosting to win, but we must win in an atmosphere characterised by love, humility, fairness, transparency and true competitive spirit that should hold us out as worthy champions and role models. We have put up world-class facilities that should create an enabling atmosphere for the young people of West Africa to exhibit their sporting skills,” the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Ndowa Lale had declared during the opening ceremony.
And at the end of hostilities, Uniport showed its supremacy over other universities by topping the medals table with 75 gold, 36 silver and 24 bronze at the Games, which took place at the University Stadium between October 31 and November 10.
The all-conquering Team UniPort grabbed a total of 135 medals out of the 462 medals shared by 36 participating universities at the sporting fiesta. The University of Lagos was second with 16 gold, 24 silver and 16 bronze, while the University of Cape Coast (UCC) in Ghana, placed third with nine gold, 53 silver and four bronze medals. In the fourth position was Obafemi Awolowo University, which garnered eight gold, three silver and seven bronze medals, while Bayero University, Kano got six gold, seven silver and nine bronze to place fifth. University of Ghana, University for Development Studies, University of Ilorin, University of Benin and Nile University of Nigeria placed sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth and tenth positions in that order.
UniPort swept majority of its medals in swimming event, chess, judo, taekwondo and scrabble in the 10-day fiesta that had 16 events. The University for Development Studies, Ghana, won the final football gold, beating hard-fighting Bayero University on penalties after both teams settled for a 1-1 draw at relegation time. Obafemi Awolowo University won the trophy in hockey, Kano University of Science and Technology received the fair play award, while Abdulsalam Garba of KUST won the best coach trophy.
30 other athletes received the Crystal Awards as most valuable players in their individual events. They were Matthew Nantiere of the University of Cape Coast and Grace Anigbata of UniPort, who won the best players in the male and female categories in athletics respectively.
Godwin Olofun of the University of Lagos, and Zainab Alabi of University of Ilorin received the awards for best male and female players in badminton, just as Kareem Joseph of UNILAG and Iornumbe Deteren of BUK took the awards in basketball. Daniel Anwuli and Perpetua Ogbiyoyo, both of UniPort emerged as best male and female players in chess.
Tunde Ayinde and Buhari Sabiu of UNILAG and BUK were declared best players in cricket and football respectively. Ebo Annam of the University of Ghana and Ininitime Sylvanus of Niger Delta University emerged as best players in handball in the male and female categories.
An athlete from Ahmadu Bello University, Muiz Bello and Victoria Akpan of the University of Benin got the MVP awards in hockey in both male and female categories. Other winners of the Crystal Awards for Most Valuable Players were Taiwo Aremu of UniPort and Sarah Attah of BUK, who won the male and female awards in Judo. Timilehin Doko of UNILAG and Gabriel Chiamaka of OAU came tops in scrabble. Adegoke Temiloluwa and Blessing Isaac, both of Kwara State University won the awards in squash, just as Godstime Nmor and Ifiezigbe Gagbe of the University of Port Harcourt took the awards in swimming. Benjamin Okwuomose of UNIBEN and Ujunwa Nwankwo of UniPort were declared best male and female fighters in taekwondo. Derek Abrfa of UCC and Bose Akinsete of UNILAG got the awards in table tennis. Illoputa Ikechukwu and Jim Jaja Amieyofori, both of UniPort got the awards in tennis, while Moses Akiye of Nile University, Abuja, and Ruth Ozor-Ugwu of UNILAG were adjudged the best players in volleyball.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Port Harcourt, Professor Ndowa Lale, was full of excitement at the end of the 14th West African University Games saying: “University sports is a powerful instrument that would foster and accelerate such regional integration of our diverse nationalities. We are happy for the privilege to play host to so many Universities on the West African coast. On behalf of the Governing Council, Senate, Staff, Students and our host communities, congratulate all the athletes, coaches and technical officials who participated in the various events. Let me also specially express our collective gratitude to the Government of Rivers State for bailing us out in our moment of great need. Governor Wike must be singled out for his generous intervention that saved the day for us. We say many thanks to Your Excellency for your kind generosity.
Our collective gratitude also goes to the Government of Delta State for supporting us from the beginning to the end of the games, and we thank Heritage Bank for partnering with us to stage the event. Turning to the athletes, Professor Lale said: “I commend your zeal to win medals which is the essence of every competition, but in striving to ascend the podium, be garlanded and celebrated. You played by the rules without cutting corners. You were guided by the urge to engender friendship, comradeship, understanding, fellow-feeling, and you extended a helping hand to your vanquished colleagues even in the heat of rivalry. You all exhibited the spirit of true sportsmanship, and I commend all of you for so doing. I am happy to note that all the athletes and officials kept faith with the Oath they took to compete fairly, honestly, transparently and without resorting to unorthodox means of obtaining victory.
“No matter the place of each participating institution on the final medals table, the shared spirit of keen competition and the humility that were exhibited by the athletes have raised the vastly bar for the host of the 15th edition of the West African University Games. It was not victory or defeat that counted; but how each athlete competed and thrilled the spectators who cheered victors and encouraged the vanquished. I am happy that even total strangers have become friends because we hosted the WAUG games here. That has been the true essence and power of sports all through the ages.
“At the opening ceremony, we promised a spectacular WAUG games. We promised to uphold the legacy of the games that were inaugurated 65 years ago at the University of Ibadan in 1965. We hosted to bring the youths of West Africa together on a common platform. We hosted to bring scholars from West Africa together.
“We promised an atmosphere characterised by love, humility, fairness, transparency and true competitive spirit as reigning champions of WAUG, and the Nigeria University Games (NUGA). We promised you world-class sporting facilities that would enable the athletes to exhibit their sporting skills. The evidence is everywhere that we kept to our promise, and we are abundantly grateful to all those who supported us. We have proved that University of Port Harcourt is the symbiosis of scholarship and sports, and we have displayed the trademark hospitality of the Niger Delta people to our guests to the best of our ability,” he stated.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Education, Malam Adamu Adamu, who was Special Guest of Honour at the closing ceremony, a Director in the Ministry, Mrs. Oluwagbemisola Ajibade, praised the University for hosting a successful sporting fiesta for the youths of West Africa, just as she congratulated the institution for winning the 14th WAUG, marking the fourth consecutive victory of Team UniPort at the games.
She stated that the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari paid special attention to sports development in the country as a powerful instrument of peace, national and youth integration.Other dignitaries who graced the event included the Rivers State Commissioner of Youths and Sports, Mr. Boma Iyaye, who led two other commissioners to represent Governor Nyesom Wike at the opening ceremony, and the Front Desk Officer for UniPort at the Federal Ministry of Education, Mr. Aliyu Alani