A chance to participate in the World School sports Competition awaits secondary school pupils who excel in the Maltina School Games.

Registration for the games opened Monday across the country for public and private secondary schools pupils to participate in track and field events.

Preliminaries for the games would hold February 19 to 21 in local governments/districts across the country after the two-week registration window closes.

State finals would follow from February 21 to 28; while the finale would hold in Lagos from March 9 to13.

Speaking at the launch of the games in Lagos last Friday, President of the Nigerian School Sports Federation (NSSF), Olabisi Joseph, said overall winners would get scholarships, laptops and printers, while their schools would get sporting facilities.

The event featured a panel discussion on “Inculcating sports culture from a young age.”

Lamenting the dearth of sporting facilities in schools, Ms Joseph said  education was incomplete without sports, which teaches skills that could not be got from classroom activities alone.

“For education to be complete, a child must go through the three domains of education – cognitive, affective and pscyhomotor. But gaining life skills goes beyond cognitive activities in the classroom. Life skills like determination, discipline, team building, setting targets can be achieved through sports,” she said.

Also, veteran athlete and Olympian, Chief Falilat Oginkoya, said Nigeria, with its huge population, should be a producer of great athletes. She said this would not be possible without secondary school sports.

She said herself and the likes of Mary Onyali were discovered at that level, which was why their careers lasted over 20 years.

She appealed to Nigerian Breweries (NB) Plc, makers of Maltina and sponsors of the competition not to organise a one-off event but ensure continuity.

“Nigeria has a population of 180 million but we don’t have up to one million athletes. Sports nation like Jamaica and Bahamas are not up to 10 million. We started representing Nigeria from secondary school.

This has to be long term. You need to manage the athletes, have a database. You have to motivate them. I don’t want to hear that they are not doing this again,” she said.

The Managing Director, NB PLC, Jordi Borrut Bel, promised that the firm would not abandon the games, which he described as a good investment in young people.

“I think this is the right thing to do and I don’t think this is one-off thing. I believe it will develop the capacity of young people to do well and enhance their mental well-being,” he said.

Also, the Corporate Affairs Director of Nigerian Breweries Plc, Mrs Sade Morgan, said the firm hopes to get 1,000 schools registered for the games.

Overall, she said the athletes and spectators stand to gain from participating as it would promote happiness the Maltina brand is known for.

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