MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 24: Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid CF celebrates scoring their opening goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid CF and Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on February 24, 2018 in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Reinforcing Fair Play in international sporting bodies

By Idris Olorunnimbe

The ongoing Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games has reinforced the unshakable belief that Africa is an unstoppable force. Our Nigerian athletes have made us proud by exhibiting a determination that transcends the inability of the Nigerian government to provide the expected optimum support. 

Seye Ogunlewe and Enoch Adegoke representing Nigeria in the 100 metres men’s race, Chukwuebuka Enekwechi, representing Nigeria in Shot Put, Bode Abiodun and Olajide Omotayo representing Nigeria in the men’s table tennis team amongst others reinforced the undeniable truth that Nigeria, and indeed Africa is overflowing with talents that refuse to be buried regardless of unfavourable conditions. They have again permanently etched Nigeria on the international sports terrain. 

This also brings to mind the Nigerian Bobsled team led by Seun Adigun and the Nigerian Skeleton athlete, Simidele Adeagbo who represented Nigeria at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, who defied the extreme cold to make history for Nigeria. We are simply unstoppable.

Finishing the 100m in 10.19 seconds and recording his season best at the ongoing Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games, Seye Ogunlewe is equally a force that has shifted the attention of the world to Nigeria, alongside Enekwechi, Abiodun and Omotayo who won silver medals in shot put and in men’s table tennis respectively. 

In our celebration, it is vital to reflect and inculcate a desire to see change, especially when the need for change is glaring. Rising above the norm of satisfaction with mediocrity in Nigeria, several people, are determined to be the movement, a movement of change and a shift in thinking and sporting behaviour. This group of advocates, to which I proudly belong to, are calling for an increased attention to detail at international sporting events, an application of the governing rules to all participants regardless of whom they are or where they are from.

 Although the Nigerian government has undoubtedly failed in its duty to provide total support for our athletes, as Nigerians, we will not fail in our duty to bring to the fore matters that may jeopardise our athletes reaching their full potential. 

Often, it appears that neither the effort of these athletes nor the corporate or personal investments that have gone into taking them to the international events are appreciated, not to mention rewarded. Thus as Nigerians, we have come to realise that we must always speak up for ourselves since those that ought to speak for us seem to be saddled with other seemingly more important activities. 

It is for this reason that we call on international governing bodies across all forms of sport to maintain fair play at all times and periodically review its rules where appropriate. Regrettably, despite the laudable achievements of most Nigerian and foreign athletes at international sporting events, cases of favouritism and bias towards specific athletes on the part of governing bodies and cheating on the part of athletes have been recorded. 

For this reason, some may have lost confidence in the decisions these bodies take in specific cases. Sports is one of the last bastions of equality and fair play and when it falters, then it is truly a sorry sight.

It is the application of this equality rule that guarantees a level playing field for every athlete, regardless of whom they are, thus giving every competitor a chance in the limelight. It is equally vital to reinforce the necessity for sports governing bodies to steer clear of favouritism, especially in the definition and enforcement of rules, springing from whatever existing personal or collective bias. Consequently, this is a call for a reawakening on the part of all concerned bodies and individuals to ensure our sporting games are free of avoidable and unnecessary behaviour that continue to take us several steps backwards.

About Idris Olorunnimbe

A consummate strategist and philosopher, Idris has a Law Degree from the prestigious University of Lagos, Nigeria. As an entrepreneur, he has helped build an unusually wide variety of businesses, including a Pre-School, an Automobile Company, a Record Label, and two Nigerian fashion brands. He continues to serve in advisory capacity in those companies even as he admits that Temple represents a culmination of his life’s work. Idris has a passion for public service, and he worked as a Senior Special Assistant to Mr. Babatunde Raji Fashola, SAN, then Governor of Nigeria’s leading State, Lagos, from 2007-2015. Before then, he co-wrote a policy paper on driver reorientation in Lagos which led to the introduction of Drivers’ Institutes in the State. He mentors several young creatives, and frequently engages in public speaking in that capacity. An avid art collector, he has long standing relationships with creative talents and entertainers alike and is one of the industry’s top investors. He has supported several concerts, shows and sports tournaments in Nigeria. Idris is married with three daughters. He is a proud Lagosian and has lived in the city all his life.

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