By Solomon Nwoke
IN order to revamp the Â dwindling fortune of the sport of swimming from the grassroots level in Nigeria,10 schools across Lagos are expected to compete at the maiden Dolphin Swimming League scheduled to kick off in December.
The tournament endorsedÂ by the Nigeria Aquatics Federation, Lagos State Sports Commission (LSSC) and the Lagos State Swimming Association has earmarked 10 schools to take part in the ten-week championship.
Speaking yesterday in Lagos at a media briefing to unveil the mascot and theme song for the competition, the initiator, Oluseyi Oyebode said the aim behind the tournament is to discover and develop young, talented swimmers to compete on the international stage for Nigeria while also developing youth swimming coaches across the country. Among the objectives of the tournament is to grow the sport as well as unearth talents and improve the technical know-how of the coaches.
Oyebode said, â€œthe maiden edition of the league will involve the topmost private primary and secondary schools in Lagos. The league will be held in all participating schools before a winner emerges. Arrangements have been made for the best swimmers from the league to participate at international swimming meets in Englandâ€�.
To provide the foreign technical support for the coaches, the British Amateur Swimming Association (ASA) has promised to organize a mentoring programme with British Coaches training local coaches within and outside the country.
The Head Teacher of Lagos Preparatory School, Nicholas Barrett assured that the management of the school would give the tournament the needed support throughout.
For the President of the Nigeria Aquatics Federation, Babatunde Fatayi-Williams, the organizers of the league must be commended for initiating the tournament while assuring of the federation support.
â€œWe are so excited that the organizers of this tournament muted this kind of idea to take the sport to grassroots level. All over the world, sports is a private public partnership and that is why we have not been able to utilize the potential of sports in this country. We are going to assure the organizers that we will keep tab of the talents that will emerge from this tournament. We are going to support them technically through the Lagos State Swimming Association and we are assuring them we will keep record of the talents so that we can consider them for major competitions,â€� Fatayi-Williams said.
According to the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Advanta Interactive Global Limited â€“ marketing firm of the tournament, Efe Ojigbede, more sponsors are expected to come on board to spice up the championship.