In this interview with SODIQ OYELEKE, current holder of Queen Moremi Ajasoro beauty pageant, 20-year-old OreoluwaToluhi, speaks about her admiration for sports and sportsmen
Did you participate in sport while growing up?
Yes, I did. I participated in basketball but I stopped.
Why did you stop?
I stopped because I was getting huge (in body size) which I didn’t like.
Which sports are your favourite at present?
Basketball and tennis. Although I cannot play basketball now, my brother is currently into it. Since I cannot do it, I am encouraging him to do it. If I can still go into tennis, I will, I like it.
Who inspires your love for tennis?
It is Serena Williams. I love her. If I venture into tennis, I really want to play like her.
What about football?
I don’t like football. It is complicated and not a straightforward game. What displeases me about it is the way it has been a subject of gambling. Sports betting is now a civilised way of gambling. I don’t like the fact that gambling has taken over the passion and joy derived from watching football. That puts me off the game.
What advice do you have for youths who are into sports betting?
For me, sports gambling is deceptive. Many youths have got too addicted to it. Some now believe that the only way they can make money is through monitoring football. The rate at which youths are venturing into gambling through football is not encouraging. It is not a problem if you like football, but you can just watch it, like it as a sport and venture into it if you are skilful or passionate about it. But it should not be something you are addicted to because of gambling. There are series of gambling websites that have made youths abandon many beneficial websites. Sports betting has made a lot of youths walk away from education. Some now think that gambling is better than schooling.
Do you think this is solely the fault of the youths?
They argue that they may not get jobs after going to school but they can make quick money from gambling and use the money to start up something for themselves instead of working for another person. Yet, I don’t encourage this civilised way of gambling. I advise governments at all levels to venture into empowerment of youths to help the economy grow.
What is your view on parents discouraging their female children to desist from sports?
I also experienced this. It is not that parents don’t really want their daughters to go into it, but the risk in sports is what scares parents off. I have seen female athletes get seriously injured and their coaches and teams did nothing about it. I remember that when I wanted to venture into basketball, my mother insisted that there must be a contract whereby when I am injured, the team or club would contribute to taking care of me. When my mother says this, most of the coaches go away. None of them is ready to sign a contract like that. No parent wants something bad to happen to their daughters.
But are you considering sports as a way of empowering the women too?
Yes, it is a way of empowerment. It empowers women. At the same time, the risk involved is something to consider and think deeply about.
Do you think sportswomen are fairly treated compared to their male folks?
It is unfair for them to be subjected to poor welfare. It is a bad thing for a woman to have the courage to venture into sports despite the risks involved and not get enough attention. When a woman decides to take part in sport, she loses so many things. She has to put a lot of things behind her. I appeal to government to encourage the women for willing to represent the nation. This will make them know that people are also happy about what they are doing for them. It will give them more courage to put in more effort. When government worships men going into sport, it discourages women.
If you were given a ticket to watch a match, which would it be?
I would love to watch tennis. I want to watch Serena Williams playing live.
Who is the top sports personality that you have met?
Do you emotional watching Super Eagles matches?
I get too emotional about us losing. I almost cried seeing Nigeria lose in our semi-final match at the 2019 AFCON.
Who is your favourite footballer?
I would say (Ahmed) Musa. He is a very good player.
If you had the opportunity, would you marry a footballer?
Yes, I will. Why not?
Have you had a crush on any?
Yes, (Alex) Iwobi.
Which club are you supporting?
It is Arsenal. I am a great fan of Arsenal. I know that if we work harder, we will win a trophy at the end. I feel sad watching some of our matches, but it is not an addiction. I just watch for the fun of it. I feel sad for them when they lose, but there is nothing I can do.
Would you allow your kids to partake in sports?
Yes, I will let all my kids participate in any sport they like. I will like to encourage them to go into sports. In my family line, we have tall people and I would like them to take advantage of that.
What bothers you most about sports in Nigeria?
It is lack of adequate facilities. I am also bothered that coaches of our national teams are foreigners. Why can’t we have our own coaches?
Many youths dropout of school because of sports, how do you see this?
I believe that they should combine both. They can multi-task. I understand that sports can be a bit tedious, but they can multi-task. They should strive to be educated athletes. I believe that you should not drop your education for sports.