Hockey In UI: A Promising Reform?

We cannot overemphasize the importance of sports, from what it feeds the eyes of those that spectate to the emotions that are stirred in those that participate, the ecstasy, the passion; a complete package we must admit. Within the walls of the University of Ibadan, the said importance of sports hasn’t changed one bit and one factor that has helped this is the diversity of sports in the university, including football, table tennis, volleyball, basketball, athletics, lawn tennis, judo, hockey, etc.

When there’s oblivion of a sport and indifference towards it, gradual declines are certain, and this continues to happen until there’s an abrupt halt. This is not very much different from what happened to UI’s hockey team. Hockey, a sport in the Premier university that has been through the throes of death, has been revived. How has it been since they came back on track? What are the experiences? challenges? goals?

The UIMSA Press had an interview with Samuel Oluwafunmibi Adeoye, a graduate from the department of Human Kinetics in the just concluded 2022/2023 academic session. Speaking to the Press, he mentioned that he had joined the school’s hockey team in 2023 and became the captain around the same time, explaining further that the hockey team had been functioning for several years till the last coach travelled, bringing an end to the life of the sport in school.

In his words, the hockey team was revived and reformed by his class, “We were offering a 300-level course, Skills Development and Techniques in Hockey, the lecturer in charge admonished us to do something about the hockey team, so we just took it up”. Samuel mentioned that initially it was just his classmates on the team, after which some people who had knowledge of the sport pre-university joined. This also drew the attention of people who had some interest in the game and were willing to know how to play well. The manner of reform accounts for the high percentage of players in the hockey team being from the department of Human Kinetics.

The team’s current coach is Dr. O. Adisa and he is assisted by Mr. Elisha who was once a captain of the team. The team trains on Wednesdays and Fridays by 4pm, and Saturdays by 7am. According to Samuel, training comprises of a separate session for those learning the basics, a normal session for those that are relatively more familiar with the sport, fitness trainings for everyone and mini games amongst the players. “There are rules in hockey, these rules are paramount, we must know and follow these rules for safety and success as a team, we learn these rules too in training”, Samuel said. Although there’s a female team not as pronounced and fully formed like the male team, training is mixed, everyone trains together.

UI Hockey Team lining up before a friendly game against Rocket Hockey Academy in 2023.

Speaking further to the Press, Samuel stated some challenges that the team has faced so far, ranging from being sidelined in certain spheres to the unavailability of training spaces. He explained that the team faces a lot of issues sharing the pitch with football players, and it is worse if they meet the players on the pitch as it is always impossible to negotiate/get any space. He also said that they were told to resort to first come, first serve, which they did, but still faced pressure from football players who don’t allow them to maximise their training time. “Several times, I have had to leave my hall as early as 5:30 am on Saturdays just to be able to secure a spot on the pitch”, he said. He further mentioned how most people termed hockey as “not viable” in the university as an excuse not to regard the people who are interested in it. The school’s sports council have intervened many times for them to secure a place to train.

When asked about the disadvantages of not having a hockey pitch and the satisfaction level from the makeshift pitch, Samuel explained that the team struggle sometimes in training due to the lack of a standard hockey pitch, he also mentioned that the makeshift pitch had only little resemblance to an actual hockey pitch, “Even the grass at Awo’s new Stadium is not conducive enough, we need a field with rightly trimmed grasses, artificial or natural, we adapting to playing on sand is not really good”. About equipment, there’s no adequacy, the team needs better hockey sticks and an improved goalkeeper’s kit. “If we want to win medals, which is our ultimate goal, we need better equipment”.

When asked about if the non-permissible left-handed sticks in field hockey affect left-handed players, Samuel again made it clear that being left-handed is no disadvantage, in fact it can provides an edge in some aspects of training. He used the opportunity to call on interested persons to join the team, “Joining the hockey team is as simple as ABC, we have a WhatsApp group, the link is usually shared from time to time, once you join ensure physical presence at our trainings and with consistency you become good at the game”. Here is a direct link to the WhatsApp group.

UI Hockey Team and Rocket Hockey Academy team up for a group picture after a friendly game in 2023.

Regarding competitions, there are currently no intra-school competitions but there is a line-up of external competitions as the hockey team are currently in Ghana for the bilateral games. The bilateral games involve a series of competitions between the University of Ibadan and the University of Ghana. It is aimed at strengthening ties and fostering unity between both institutions. The first leg of the bilateral games had taken place here in the University of Ibadan in April and it included table tennis, cricket, handball, and a debate at Trenchard Hall. The second leg of the bilateral games is currently on at the University of Ghana, Legon. From the 23rd of June, it’ll be a week-long event comprising of judo, badminton, hockey and debate. UI’s hockey team are participating as representatives of the University of Ibadan with the goal of defeating their opponents on their home soil. Samuel also mentioned to the press that the hockey team have the NUGA games (Nigeria University Games Association) and WAUG (West African University Games) in sight. So far, the team has had no medals or records, hopefully, this changes in the nearest future.

Rounding off his session with the Press, Samuel reiterated how grateful he is to the school’s sport council for their timely interventions and to all those that have always believed in the hockey team. We see a team that is at square one, not for the first time but at a promising time. They have their minds set on rising and soaring again, their perseverance through their current challenges might be a harbinger of what is to come, time will tell.

Joseph Jacobs.


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6 thoughts on “Hockey In UI: A Promising Reform?”

    1. This is very good and explanatory and I think it explains what most people don’t see about the sport. Most people believe it’s not a worthy sport because it’s not popular and I disagree. I think Hockey is one of the best sports there is and it can be played to an extent equally among Male and female.

  1. Wow, the interview was so nice. Thumbs up to the capito who perfectly highlighted our challenges and struggles so that all could see and hopefully things get better.
    The school of thought that hockey is too dangerous should be corrected. Every sport is an attractive nuisance in one way or the other. So the team is open to both males and females alike.
    Everybody should read this ✅.
    It couldn’t have been done better. Nice one my capito 🤩

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