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‘We keyed into sports to improve well-being of Nigerian children’

By Christian Okpara
11 November 2017   |   4:18 am
Good health is a function of several factors amongst which are quality food, hygienic environment and healthy lifestyle. For those who are concerned about their wellbeing, these elements have no substitutes.

Participants at the first edition of Loya Swim Meet held at Grange School, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos.

Good health is a function of several factors amongst which are quality food, hygienic environment and healthy lifestyle. For those who are concerned about their wellbeing, these elements have no substitutes.

Interestingly, several socio-economic researches have revealed that there is a nexus between the general wellbeing of a country and its productivity. Thus, the quality of food consumed by the individual, the cleanliness of his environment and his lifestyle determine to a reasonable extent the prosperity of that person and his nation.

In an era when the emphasis is on the private sector driving the country’s sports development, not many companies are willing to delve into such ventures, especially with the attitude of government officials to investments by private organisations. Many companies have been forced to divest their interest in sports due to the unfavourable elements, including those set on their path by government officials, who are actually supposed to encourage them to invest on Nigerian youths.

However, food and beverage company, Promasidor Nigeria Limited has been unrelenting in supporting the country’s national development goal through interventions in different facets of sports in the country.

In addition to its reputation in quality food manufacturing and promotion of cleaner environment, the company, which has been working behind the scene through sports talent development to help the country achieve the third component of building a healthy nation.

Some of its recent sports development efforts are Loya Swim Meet, National Youths Service Corps Volleyball Tournament, Cowbell Football Academy (CFA), Cowbell i-Try Rugby for Schools and Para Soccer Tournament, the last of which the Lagos State Government has taken over.

Last December, Loya Milk launched a secondary school swimming competition among schools in Lagos and its environs. In the first edition, 10 schools competed for three titles in the 25 metres freestyle, 50 metres freestyle and 100 metres freestyle categories.

Following the success of the first edition, the company followed up with the second edition held at Grange School, GRA, Ikeja, Lagos in May this year. This time the participating schools jumped from 10 to 17.

Following the interest the Lagos events generated, the company took the Loya Swim Meet to Port Harcourt, Rivers State, where several schools showcased their talented students. And now the competition is scheduled to move around the states to reflect the national appeal of Loya Milk.

Speaking at the maiden edition, Marketing Manager, Promasidor Nigeria, Mr. Abiodun Ayodeji said the company keyed into the programme to improve the wellbeing of Nigerian children.

He said: “At the heart of Loya Milk is the need to improve the wellbeing of children, and this is achieved not only by providing the best nutrition but also by identifying with a sport that promotes that essence. Swimming is a 360-degree sport that involves all parts of the body. It also helps to maintain a healthy weight, healthy heart, muscle control and it is a fun exercise for children.”

Loya Swim Meet is a typical case of supplementing quality food with a healthy lifestyle, Ayodeji said, adding that the 50 per cent additional calcium in Loya Milk helps to build stronger bones, tougher teeth and healthier heart, which is in line with the health benefits of swimming.

Stakeholders in the education sector, who have commended the competition, said it would stimulate the interest of youths in swimming, and boost the country’s capacity to compete in international contests in the years to come.

Mr. Vander Merwe, the Principal Chrisland Schools, whose student won the 50-metre category, said: “This is a wonderful incentive for students. We would definitely maintain our performance in subsequent competition. We commend Promasidor Nigeria and urge other organisations to emulate it. If more organisations sponsor this type of initiative, more students will be encouraged to participate in swimming.”

Promasidor Nigeria has also made a mark in other recreational sports such as volleyball. It demonstrated its interest in this sport through the sponsorship of the Cowbell Chocolate/NYSC Female Volleyball Competition. For its commitment to the sustenance of the competition, the company received commendations from National Youth Service Corps officials and members who have called on other corporate bodies to emulate the gesture.

At its recent edition at Lagos State NYSC Orientation Camp, the State Director of the Corps, Cyril Akhanemhe said Promasidor has consistently brought to the limelight the skills of the Nigerian youths in the sport.

Recently when the company donated 1,000 hockey sticks to the Lagos State Hockey Association as part of its contribution to the development of the game, Secretary General of the Nigeria Olympic Committee, Tunde Popoola described Promasidor as a lover of sports.

The donation was made at the Lagos State Secondary Schools Sports Festival, tagged IBILE Games.

“This is where hockey starts – at the youth level. We have been given 1,000 hockey sticks, which have been distributed to 24 participating schools. These will go a long way in supporting the development of hockey. We are very grateful to Promasidor for doing this, especially when hockey is almost going into comatose,” Popoola said.

Presenting the equipment, the Head Legal and PR, Promasidor Nigeria, Andrew Enahoro said: “This is Promasidor’s way of giving back to the society and keeping the kids away from the streets.”

Perhaps the Cowbell Football Academy (CFA), a programme it unveiled in 2012, is the most impactful among Promasidor’s sports talent development schemes, not because of its outstanding products but its catch-them-young strategy. For its steadfastness and comprehensive coaching programme, CFA has earned itself a reputation as one of the most vibrant corporate-sponsored sports academies in the country.

Both officials of the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) and ex-internationals such as ex-Super Eagles captain, Segun Odegbami and former Barcelona FC’s defender, Gbenga Okunowo, attested to the growing relevance of the scheme in building strong national football teams at all levels and replacing past heroes.

Sponsored by Cowbell Milk, the official milk of the Nigerian Olympics Team to the 2012 Olympic Games held in the United Kingdom, CFA is not only a grooming ground but also a mentorship platform. At its recent Summer Camp held at the National Stadium, football icons, trainers, players and analysts were on ground to motivate and share their experiences with the kids.

Nigeria Football Federation’s (NFF) first Vice President, Seyi Akinwumi, who was at the 2016 CFA Summer Camp, said the programme would contribute in no small measure to national football. “Apart from catching the young school children and schooling them on football, the NFF has also realised that they are being taught discipline, interpersonal and communication skills, which will help them to excel in any endeavour. I see this as a programme that will produce great talents,” Akinwumi remarked.

CFA has produced the first fruits of its excellent vision. Toyeeb Gidado is of the success stories. Gidado, who was with CFA from the onset, hit the limelight three years ago when he captained the Under-15 Team Nigeria at the 2014 Youth Olympics held in Botswana, which won gold medal in the football game.

Speaking with journalists at the final of the 2017 CFA Summer Camp, Gidado said: “I am excited about the opportunity Cowbell has given me. I captained the Under-15 Team Nigeria at the 2014 Youth Olympics and we came back with the gold medal in the soccer game. The training I received at the academy made me what I am. Several clubs have shown interest in me. The training CFA gives us does not end on the pitch, it makes us better citizens.”

Managing Director of Promasidor Nigeria, Anders Einarsson, who urged the participants to “make the best use of the opportunity” during the opening of the summer camp, promised that the company would sustain the dream and continue its role as a reliable partner in building the nation’s sports.