Surely, it’s the hope that kills! After an almost endless bout of anticipation, the advertised weekend-only U-lympics (UIMSA Olympics) scheduled to start on Saturday 16th October, has been rescheduled for the 60th Health Week. This was confirmed in a heart-wrenching memo released by the executive council on Monday. This didn’t come as a shock as we’re used to expecting so little when it comes to sports in UIMSA.

When quizzed about what brought about the change in a chat with the Preclinical Press, the Sports Secretary, Olorunyomi Fola-Oyetayo replied, “During the planning process, we had hoped that physical activities would have resumed fully within the hall (ABH) like it had in UI. However, after our just concluded Games Day and with just one week left till the start of the Games with no approval in sight, it seemed reasonable to hold off.”

She let us know that no plan was made to find another venue outside ABH and that she didn’t really consider UI. She argued that it’d have been more cost-effective to hold the Games within ABH, and having it at UI will have huge implications on the budget because she’d have more students to transport and more venues to pay for.

Again, no plans whatsoever were made to have the event outside ABH, and the fate of the event hung on hope for months! It is even quite disrespectful to the anticipating and sports-starved UIMSAites that a schedule was communicated with the sports directors of each class before proper plans were made and the event-defining approval was gotten. Some had already started training, and many had planned their weekends around the schedule.

No current pre-clinical class has ever participated in any UIMSA Sport Competition. It’s been over two years since the last UIMSA sports competition, and UIMSAites in the Preclinical arm are increasingly worried.

The Preclinical Press asked some of the members of the Preclinical arm and the Sports Director of the 100level class for their opinions on sports in UIMSA in wake of the postponement of the U-lympics. Here are some of their understandably long-winded replies:

Sport in UIMSA is completely rubbish. Those guys keep postponing stuff. What else can bring everyone in UIMSA together aside from sport? I don’t know why they can’t think out of the box. Sports restriction is only in ABH. They should think of other possible ways of making the competition come to reality. One of the reasons why most people don’t even pay dues is because the association don’t organise events like this. Things that give people reasons to drop books and do something else. SLM pitch is free. Nothing is stopping them from organising this competition. They can remove some games from their plan or schedule those games to UI.

Qoyyum Alabi

Well, with the rave around the UIMSA being of global standard, I expected much but yet to see much, to be honest, and not in a light mood with that. The reason for the postponement was hinged on the Covid-19 pandemic which just didn’t come into existence today. I feel, before making out that there would be UIMSA Ulympic, a highly-rated organization like UIMSA, should have settled all grounds before calling out her members, UIMSAites, to party. That would have shown they had more respect for us and the scenario of leaving the emotions high and dry would have been avoided. Now, I am afraid the excitement around it may not be as before especially from my class who had put much into preparation, money and time-wise, only to be told a few hours to it that it had been postponed. For what reason? Covid. Did Covid just start? NO. As the class sports director, the one first contact being made with, I have noticed the trend; the trend of not putting all things in place before calling forward UIMSAites. It happened in the inter-class friendlies and Games Day. For instance, I was contacted that there would be Games Day and eight(8) representatives were needed from our class, in a way that showed there would be competition. Out of respect for that invitation, we spent fortunes and time out of our busy schedule in the PlayStation to select guys that would be representing us. We were able to make the selection, thereafter submitted the names to the Sports Secretary on her demands, and when we got to ABH, we started asking ourselves why we had prepared so much. I later asked the Sports Secretary about it, but she said, it wasn’t meant to be a competition. I was asking myself again why there was mandatory demand for representatives at first place, if there wouldn’t be competition. This left me ruffled because that put my integrity at risk for misleading the class after I had told them there would be competition. They left their books truly behind while preparing for it. However, we let that slide. But when the trend extended to the postponement of UIMSA Ulympic, I was not that cool with it because it took lots of my time and that of others setting things, different departments of sports, up at ONCE and even to the fact that things tend to take new students more time. The old students could always just make selections from the ones on ground. However, I must also look at the other side of it that, unlike before, the UIMSAites found themselves amidst the unusual, the new normal, and which might have made things truly difficult. We also need to admit that the venue, unlike the SUB Field, is at UCH, one of the notable places for Covid-19 patients, is also another point which is truly a big deal. I got a bit close to the Sports Secretary at a point and from the short time, I could really see how passionate she was, to ensure things show forth despite the circumstances. It might still be out of this good intention that everything looked confused in a way that the efforts to make things go forward were pushed back by the hands of the Covid-19 pandemic. At a point, with her observable efforts, I felt sorry her tenure came around as such a trying time. Based on this fact and being new to the system, I would withhold my opinion for now and give it time till things return to normal before putting the UIMSA Sports to ratings. Also, I must add that the Sports Secretary did something unprecedented as by most accounts, Preclinical students, not to talk of Preliminary, 100 level guys, didn’t get called up into the faculty teams on the restrictions of seniority, the ones in their clinicals being dominant. I think kudos should be given to her on this for putting all virtually on equal grounds when it comes to selection and that little change from the UIMSA Sports Secretary might have been rewarded with the number of accolades in the past event, Interfaculty Games, while I look forward to a more organized system.

David Akinnusoye (Sports Director, 100l)

I don’t think there’s any event these guys have really organized that makes sense. The Games Day for example. How will they come out to announce such if they’ve never fully planned it before? That’s how they announced friendly that first semester and nothing later happened. They said it was the Hostel that didn’t approve of it then. But then that same week they still did Bonfire night there. To me it seems they’re just very powerless or they’re just whining us.

Fuhad Moshood

Let me be frank. I don’t think that there is a well-structured sport system in UIMSA. By this, I mean that there is no system (time and funding) in place for free-flowing sports activity within the association. I don’t think there is a particular time in the academic session that there will be sports games within the UIMSA. Neither is there any delegated source of funds that can be used to facilitate intradepartmental games (Ulympics). Most times, it just ends in a proposal for the sporting event to take place without the actual event occurring. So the structure (timing and funding) is part of the problem. Another thing is too many bottlenecks, stringent rules, and complexity within UIMSA. For example, if Ulympics is to occur, a lot of the proposed planning has to go through UIMSA and they will likely get disapproved, or the plans will get changed. For simplicity, I mean that their budget for these events is way beyond what they have. A high budget is not needed. Frankly speaking, all the needs for sports are transportation, water, glucose, medals, and equipment. They can be sourced in UIMSA. For example, each level will surely have a ball, basketball etc. So why the need to get new ones when you don’t have the money? Water and glucose are basic things that I don’t think they should even have a budget for if they don’t have the money. The most important thing here is for the event to occur and let everyone have a wonderful experience. So lack of structure, many rules, and bottlenecks, and complexity within UIMSA is what is causing it.

Toba Olayemi

I think they don’t respect the population in this UI campus. They don’t fix the games with our opinion in mind. Look at this scenario in which the U-LYMPICS was postponed. Evidently, it has been shifted to next year and that’s bye-bye to any major sporting events organised by my department in my first two years in UI.
This administration has been lacklustre at best and the sports division has been very mediocre.
The so-called Games day was supposed to be an organised event in which each class was supposed to field their representatives. Instead, the games started late. The organisation was passable. A couple of us had to stab dissection to make our presence known, yet it was all a waste.
There was a friendly that was proposed before the department team was chosen yet it couldn’t hold. Is it that UIMSA as an organisation doesn’t have any authority as the sole student body of MBBS students or what purpose do they serve if they can’t successfully orchestrate a sporting event?

Abdulsobur Abdulazeez

The postponement is not their fault. They keep organizing and rescheduling due to COVID-19. Based on that, the UIMSA sports unit are doing what they can to keep the sport arm lively and working.

Jude Afabor

Most of these opinions glaringly point in the same direction: the state of sports in UIMSA isn’t close to being satisfactory. The opiners have said it all. However unintentional it might be, there’s arguably an aura of apathy and negligence, and a lack of a structured system when it comes to sports in UIMSA. Pushing the Ulympics to the Health Week – a week where various activities overflow and people are busy organizing or making their pick of favourite events – further proves the point. For optimal effect and maximal participation, the competition should be independent of the Health week; I really wonder how a multiple sport interclass competition will be intercalated into an already packed week.

The previous tenure ran for over nine months before COVID restrictions were imposed. What sporting activities happened in those nine months? None except for class-orchestrated friendlies. Again, it’s been seven months into this tenure; the online Carlsen Chess competition and the poorly-organized Games (electronic and indoor games) Day are the only events to show for it. Thanks to the inter-faculty games, some UIMSAites got the chance to represent the faculty and they did remarkably well. The faculty came third and I must commend the sports committee for their input. However, how do we discover and help other talented UIMSAites become confident in their abilities to step up to represent the faculty if the opportunity to participate in-house isn’t even provided? Perhaps, the Sports Committee do not realize that preclinical students do not have the option of ABH league to compensate for the lack of sporting activities. COVID was there at the beginning of the tenure, and I believe Miss Olorunyomi could have made plans around the rather unfortunate circumstance. What happens if ABH never eases the restrictions? A plan that hinges on hope is insufficient; having no secondary plan portrays lukewarmness. Some sports could have been sacrificed to help cut the additional costs that might come with using another venue and also compensate for the increase in transportation costs. Sporting activities are one of the best ways to foster unity across levels. With a better sports system in place, more talents will be discovered, enthusiasts will be entertained, and participants will develop in skill and fitness.

Daniel Oluborode