Nigeria is Africa’s most popular country and there are Nigerians who have achieved both local and international fame through sports. Chioma Ajunwa is the first female Nigerian athlete to win a gold medal for Nigeria in Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games. Football (known as soccer in the United States) debuted officially as an Olympic sport in Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games and the Nigerian Super Eagles won the first gold medal that year by beating the Argentine team.
Dozens of Nigerians are today professional athletes in Europe and America. A Nigerian based in the US, Hakeem Olajuwon, is today roundly adjudged the best basketballer in the world.
Nigerian sports, though always exercised, was noted first in the 1950s. Nigeria had its first appearance in the Helsinki Olympic Games in 1952, and its first victory in 1954 when Emmanuel Ifeanjuna won a gold medal in the high jump at the Commonwealth Games in Cardiff. In 1962, the Nationals Sports Council was set up, and in 1971, the National Sports Commission, and they had the following responsibilities (stated exactly as is):
- To coördinate and integrate efforts to raise the standard of performance in sports in Nigeria.
- To encourage the development, organization, and participation of sports in Nigeria.
- To make any arrangements for the States’ Sports Councils for Competitions, technical assistance, recruitment of coaches and for any other matters as the Commission sees fit.
- To promote physical fitness and general well-being of all persons in Nigeria
Read Also: History Of The National Football Team
Nigeria emerged on the international football/soccer scene in 1960 when it first entered the World Cup but failed to qualify for the finals. It eventually qualified for the 1970 World Cup in Mexico. The Nigerian National League began in 1972 when five teams entered the league. This grew to 12 teams by 1978. The victories Nigeria has won are stated in the records section below. Locally within Nigeria, there are many sporting clubs that one can join.
Most Common Sports Played
It is no secret that football is the most popular sport not only in Nigeria but all over Africa! There are so many young people who dream of being internationally recognized football players like Nigeria’s Jay-Jay Okocha, Britain’s David Beckham and Brazil’s Pele. There are groups of youngsters on every street playing football at certain times of the day. There are even inter-street football matches where the winners would go home with a cash prize and a year’s worth of bragging rights.
Running is a sport that a lot of youngsters actively take part in. No school sport is complete without the athletics event. Aside from football, running is a sport with the fiercest competition. There are a lot of people who take part in this sport and many of them hope to make it to the Olympics, but only a few ever get the chance to be picked to represent the country at the Olympics or Common Wealth Games.
Boxing is also a well-known sport in Nigeria, and famous Nigerian boxers such as Bash Ali have paved the way for young Nigerian boxers. There are so many young boxers who hope to make it to the Olympics but a lot of them lack the necessary training tools and guidance to help them hone their boxing skills.
Basketball is a sport that is loved by a lot of young Nigerian boys and girls. Many public and private schools have basketball training facilities to help young basketball players polish their skills. Some companies even organize basketball clinics where professional basketball players train youngsters in the art of playing this world-famous game.
5. Nigerian Dambe Boxing
Associated with the Hausa people of Nigeria, Dambe is a form of boxing that is centuries old and is an aggressive form of boxing.
light sleeper, heavy dreamer.