Consistency Personified: UI Volleyball Team

Sports in the Premier University are a thing to look forward to, every session, especially as an avenue to de-stress, either as an active participant or a vivacious spectator. The beauty of diversity in sports and their adequate facilities is a gift that keeps giving. Even though UI is majorly known for its academic prowess, it still exudes a high interest in sports. From intra-class games to inter-departmental, inter-faculty, and inter-hall games, the Student Union Building Pitch is always a place to be. It doesn’t stop there, as inter-school games are also on our radar. NUGA? Novelty matches? Name it. In these inter-school friendly games, as opposed to some claims, we do pretty well against other South-Western schools that come around. Aside from the sports ground around SUB and Obafemi Awolowo Hall, most hostels have at least a mini-pitch, volleyball court, basketball court, table tennis, etc.

Contrary to popular opinion, football is just one of many sports played in the University of Ibadan. We have volleyball, basketball, badminton, table tennis, judo, taekwondo, swimming, hockey, and more. While football might be considered the mainstream, these other sports have their devout participants and fans and their routines. If you take morning/evening walks around these sporting arenas, you would see different people in their sports kits training – either casually or for a competition. For competition reasons, each sport has a school team designated to represent the school. The criteria for membership are determined by the necessary authorities in charge of these teams – and they may differ per sport. Of these teams, the UI Volleyball team stands out for several reasons.

Volleyball is one of the major games played at the University of Ibadan. The school volleyball team consists of males and females – as it is a game that’s played by both genders on the same court. They consistently train together, and when it’s time for competitions, the best and most consistent players are selected to represent the school. Speaking to the Press,  a member of the UI volleyball team, Oludehinwa Adura, a medical student, explained that the team trains on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays – 4 pm to 7 pm on weekdays and 7:30 am to 12 pm on weekends. “The training frequency might increase when there’s a competition on the way”. Also, their practices are not limited to the school’s academic calendar timeframe. The school has been on break since sometime around April/May, and this team did not stop practising – even during the long holiday. “Membership is free and very inclusive; interest is all that matters, and the team welcomes as many people as possible, ” he explained. During training sessions, the court is divided into two sections: the main court,  where the experts play, and the other section, where beginners and new members train to become experts – with the help of a senior player or one of the coaches. 

Based on the information gathered from team members, consistent practices are possible because players are still on campus due to other academic programmes spanning the long holiday – like teaching practice, IT, etc. Also, the drive to improve pushes players to show up consistently, even when it’s not easy.

A picture from one of the team’s training matches at the Adamasimgba Stadium.

Speaking with the Press, Coach Tunde, who has been in charge of the team for four years and counting, believes that the team’s performance in inter-varsity competitions earns a solid eight on a scale of 1-10. While there was no access to verify the exact records, the team has won gold, silver, and bronze medals on multiple occasions. They also come out on top in friendly competitions, although he admitted losing some games. Regarding what the future holds for the team, the coach replied, “The future to me is very bright. We have a very talented and committed group of players who put in much effort, dedication and hard work. I’m looking forward to more successes”. 

The coach and the team will lose one or two players to graduation this year. When asked if that would affect the team’s chemistry, Coach Tunde said, “Most finalists are always busy in their final year, so the team subconsciously moves on from them in their penultimate year”. In his words, “Gold, gold, and nothing but gold” are the expectations for this year’s NUGA games.

Goodness Abisoye.

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