By Dipo Olowookere
One of Nigeria’s most innovative banking service providers, Heritage Bank Plc, has unveiled plans to organise an annual sporting event for secondary schools in Nigeria with the aim of discovering and rewarding talents.
The project known as Skoolympics, is aimed at building a heritage of champions using Lagos State for the pilot scheme.
Managing Director and Chief Executive of the bank, Mr Ifie Sekibo, officially flagged off the project in Lagos, at a crowded corporate forum/ presentation.
Addressing representatives of prospective brand partners at the first official press briefing, the Heritage Bank’s boss who was represented by Executive Director, Service Bank, Mr Niyi Adeseun, said Skoolympics is the lender’s signature sporting event designed to provide a platform for schools and youths to develop talents in sporting activities at an early stage.
Mr Sekibo said that the idea behind Skoolympics was the holistic development of young people, fostering their physical, social and emotional health.
“The benefits of Skoolympics reach beyond the impact on physical well-being and the value of the educational benefits of Skoolympics should not be underestimated,” he said.
In his contribution, a consultant to the project, Mr Moses Nwanze, Managing Director of Lexicon Communications, said the maiden edition in Lagos would be held in the six educational districts of Agege, Ikeja, Badagry, Epe and Ikorodu among others.
He added that in order to give vent to the project, former African Queen of the tracks and two-time Olympic medalist, Mary Onyali-Omagbemi, has been chosen as the brand ambassador of the Skoolympics project because of her contribution to the development of sport in the country.
Also speaking on the technical details of the project, Chief Executive of Topaz Sports Limited, Mr Edwin Udogu, said there would be post-event management of the winning athletes through mentoring process that could lead to award of scholarship by either international or local organisations in order for them to fulfil their career in sports.
The major objectives of the project are to increase participation in sports in order to discover talents and future Olympians, to groom young athletes yearly from the grassroots who will be developed, trained and nurture them to compete and achieve their dreams as well as to create a platform through sports where youths will become great in the various communities.
The bank intends to collaborate with the Lagos State Government to build a culture of sports hand-in-hand with the formal education in a bid to secure the future of the teaming population.
Towards this end, the lender will bring together more than 80 public and private schools with about 6,000 students competing across all local government areas of Lagos State in the maiden edition.
The finals of the competition will take place this October at the Teslim Balogun Stadium in Surulere from October 19 to 21, 2016 and there will be various sporting activities such basketball, athletics, handball, table tennis and swimming among others.