Girls who play team sports as adolescents are much more likely to be successful later in life; and engaging girls in sports improves their coordination, balance, flexibility and strength [Oppenheimer Funds]. In Nigeria, school aged boys are engaged actively in football and basketball. This prepares them for competitiveness, independence and decision making in critical areas in adulthood.
Statement of Problem
Sadly, fewer girls participate in sports for lack of motivation. Young girls have at least two-thirds fewer same-sex literary role models for their participation in sports than young boys [The Women's Sports Foundation].
Statistics show that girls have 1.3 million fewer opportunities to play high school sports than boys. By age 14, girls are dropping out of sports at two times the rate of boys. The implication of this is the decreasing desire in girls, to be independent, compete and take critical life decisions.
The commercialisation of education has also turned the tide for public schools. Nowadays, majority of children from low income families attend public schools. Many of the girls are without hope of furthering their education beyond junior secondary schools. They daily, and increasingly throng the streets after school, hawking wares, doing drugs and selling their bodies to contribute to their family incomes and meet their own needs.
The Intervention: Funke - Treasure Table Tennis Championship (F3TC)
I still marvel at the discovery that girls who are active in sports during adolescence and young adulthood are 20% less likely to get breast cancer later in life, in addition to having a positive self image.
I believe girls should increasingly tap into the benefits that participating in sports brings. The National Policy on Education states that access to education is a right for all Nigerian children regardless of gender, religion and disability. This is also in alignment with UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) 3, 4, 5 and 16 which harp on promoting healthy living and well being for all, gender equality, education and promoting peaceful and inclusive societies, respectively.
The core objectives of the championship are:
- To harvest talented girls from schools and transform them into sports women.
- To provide a mentoring platform to empower disadvantaged girls with life skills
- To provide the means and the platform to continue their education, using sports as a bait.
- To merge talent and education into a sports empowerment scheme. This will improve their quality of life.
- To offer leadership training by nurturing a set of Table Tennis coaches from these pool of girls.
The F3TC preliminaries and finals will hold in September 2018. A coaching clinic is included in the competition, to train the girls on how to play table tennis, become table tennis coaches and be empowered through a series of sessions which include financial literacy, reproductive health education, and other life skills. The sessions would continue post championship, quarterly, until the next championship.
I want to give back to my home town, as an influential broadcast journalist; and use my clout and pedestal to inspire and motivate young girls from low income families to aspire to be the best they can be, through the game of Table Tennis.
The Choice of Table Tennis
Table Tennis is a minimal contact game and therefore exposes the players to minimal injuries. Given the significantly low injury rate in table tennis, school age girls can engage in the game without compromising their womanhood.
It is one of the most cost-effective sporting disciplines. It is basically an indoor game, it is therefore suitable for engaging girls as they can enjoy the fun, and recreational advantage of table tennis within and around their living spaces, at home.
It is both an individual and team sport. It is less combatant and has been used repeatedly in Nigeria to pick talents 'from schools to the spotlight.
Through sports, girls learn important life skills such as teamwork, leadership and confidence.
- That Oyo State Ministry of Sports, as promised, will continue to nurture the girls in Table Tennis, after the competition.
- That Ibadan now has a chance to produce formidable female players who will represent the nation in Table Tennis.
- That the championship will kindle a wave of interest in Table Tennis and re—popularise it.
A projected turnout of over 1,000 adults and female school children drawn from public and private schools in Ibadan, Oyo State. Table Tennis kits, trophies, certificates, medals will be given out to the girls, officials and sponsors. Celebrity visits and musical performance will also feature prominently in the championship.
For further information, we suggest you download the F3TC Concept Paper, please click here.
F3TC...from school to spotlight...