As a sports management expert, it hurts to see that the Olympic-size Myrtha Tech competition swimming pool constructed for the 2014 Nigeria Universities Games (NUGA) hosted by the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife, is under lock. I do not know for how long but I have not seen any activity around it since the Games ended.
I was at the university last week and saw that the facility, one of the best in the country that was constructed by VAST International, has been abandoned, with the water inside the pool having turned algae green.
It saddens to note that such a lofty project faces an uncertain future due to several reasons that I really did not understand when I spoke to some university people – some of it local politics.
The Obafemi Awolowo University, which I am a proud alumnus, prides itself as one of the best universities in the world academically. Even in sports, it has excelled having produced Olusoji Fasuba, the holder of the African 100m men’s sprint record. Fasuba was a student-athlete during my time as an undergraduate.
OAU built this swimming pool for the 2014 NUGA but it has since become under-utilised and is in danger of becoming a white elephant if attitudes do not change.
During the 2014 games, the University of Port Harcourt dominated the pool winning 10 gold medals and nine silver medals on their way to topping the final table. OAU finished third at that competition.
Everyone who is familiar with multi-sport competitions knows that swimming is a big sport with several medals available. So why is the OAU not making use of the swimming pool for training their athletes for future competitions?
Apart from that, this swimming pool could become a veritable breeding ground for Nigeria’s national teams if there is a concerted effort to making use of it for raising athletes from all around the country.
OAU has an opportunity to become a leader in swimming in Nigeria.
Apart from the raising of competition athletes, the OAU swimming pool could be a revenue generator for the university if they open it up to the university community and the larger Ife community for use for leisure purposes.
It could also earn revenue from making its services available for training of people who would love to swim in the community.
I can just imagine children’s and adult swimming classes becoming mainstay revenue for the swimming pool.
It is important to put the pool to good use and not allow become a burden on society’s conscience.