Sports

Pre-NiMSA Games Heat: Plans and Preparations

The Nigerian Medical Students’ Association (NiMSA), the official umbrella association for all medical students in recognized medical schools across Nigeria, regularly organizes events to foster unity and camaraderie among its members. These events include the NiMSA Health Week, various exchange programs, regional conferences, and more. Among these, one of the most eagerly anticipated is the biennial NiMSA Games, which bring together medical students’ associations from various universities to compete in sports such as football, volleyball, swimming, basketball, and numerous indoor games.

It has been nearly six years since the last NiMSA Games, with disruptions primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the eight-month ASUU strike. The last edition, held in 2018, saw the University of Ilorin Medical Students’ Association (ILUMSA) hosting the games and emerging victorious with an impressive haul of 41 medals – 16 gold, 15 silver, and 10 bronze. This year’s NiMSA Games are scheduled to take place at the University of Lagos, AMSUL being the host MSA, in August this year, and the excitement among medical students nationwide is palpable. Everyone is eagerly looking forward to what promises to be a remarkable event, marking the return of this cherished tradition.

In preparation for the upcoming NiMSA Games, the UIMSA Sports Committee has organized a Pre-NiMSA Games Heat geared toward selecting the best athletes for the different available sports in the main event. The UIMSA Press conducted an interview with the UIMSA Sports Secretary to discuss the plans and preparations for the event.

Can you start by telling us a bit about yourself and your role as the Sports Secretary of UIMSA? 

Chidinma: Thank you for having me. My name is Chidinma Onyiuke, a member of the 2k23 class and I’m currently serving as the Sports Secretary of UIMSA. My role involves organizing sports events, promoting physical fitness among members, and ensuring that our teams are well-prepared for various competitions.

You recently organized the UIMSA Keep Fit program. Can you share what inspired this initiative?

Chidinma: Medical school can be incredibly demanding, with students spending much of their time seated and engrossed in their studies, often neglecting regular exercise. The Keep Fit program, which actually began two tenures ago, was inspired by the need to ensure fitness among UIMSAites and to promote a sense of togetherness. The primary aim is to encourage a healthy lifestyle amidst our rigorous academic schedule. Every first Saturday of the month, we host a Keep Fit session to help UIMSAites stay active and connected.

What were some of the challenges you encountered while organizing the first edition of the Keep Fit program in your tenure?

Chidinma: The Keep Fit program is divided into two arms: the preclinical and clinical. On the preclinical side, the major challenge was that the school was on break, and many students were not around. On the clinical side, ensuring maximum participation proved difficult, particularly because we had to wake people up by 6:30 on Saturday morning. Generally, the turnout was quite low and unimpressive. However, I am optimistic that with new strategies in place, participation will improve in subsequent sessions.

We know there are several upcoming events, including the Pre-NiMSA games and the Hoyas competition. Can you tell us which event comes first?

Chidinma: The Hoyas competition is no longer a UIMSA event, as the sponsors have decided to make it an ABH event. Consequently, it no longer falls under UIMSA’s jurisdiction. Therefore, our primary focus is now on the pre-NiMSA events, which serve as preparation for the forthcoming NiMSA games.

For the Pre-NiMSA heat and the actual NiMSA games, what specific sports are we looking into?

Chidinma: We are focusing on a variety of sports for the NiMSA games and the Pre-NiMSA heat. These include track and field events, male and female football, mixed volleyball, male and female basketball, and indoor games such as checkers, chess, scrabble, FIFA, and Ayò. Notably, there will be no Pre-NiMSA Heat for swimming and lawn tennis; instead, recommended athletes for these sports will be referred to the UI Sports Council for proper training.

Do we have a confirmed date for the Pre-NiMSA games, and if so, when will it take place?

Chidinma: The Pre-NiMSA heat is scheduled to commence on the 22nd of this month, starting with the track and field events. However, specific dates for the other sports are yet to be finalized, as we are taking into account the MB III examinations being written by the 2k21 class.

What will be the main venues for most of the events?

Chidinma: The track events will be held at Awo Stadium, while volleyball and basketball matches are set to take place at the ABH volleyball court. For football, there will be alternating venues between UCH (SMLS) and UI (SUB or Awo Stadium). The indoor games are scheduled to be held in ABH.

In terms of logistics and preparation, what steps are being taken to ensure a smooth execution of the Pre-NiMSA events?   

Chidinma: A lot of groundwork is being done by the executives to ensure a smooth execution of the Pre-NiMSA events. We have made arrangements for transporting UIMSAites to and from UCH. Additionally, I have met with the UI Sports Director, who has agreed to be present for the heats and assist in selecting the best athletes among UIMSAites for the various sports.

How do you plan to encourage participation from UIMSA members in the Pre-NiMSA games?

Chidinma: UIMSAites are generally enthusiastic about participating in the heats and subsequently representing UIMSA in the NIMSA games. We are putting significant effort into publicity to ensure widespread awareness and engagement. We have created and distributed broadcasts that have reached a large number of UIMSAites. Additionally, to further encourage participation, we plan to consistently recognize and celebrate outstanding athletes by featuring them across all our social media platforms.

Are the freshmen (2k27) qualified to participate in the Pre-NiMSA heat and Games?

Chidinma: Absolutely, freshers are not only qualified but are also encouraged to participate in the heats. We are keen on having them involved and possibly selecting some representatives from among them. With the new session underway, they are fully recognized as members of the association and we look forward to their active participation.

How can UIMSAites who are not participating as athletes contribute to or support the Pre-NiMSA games?

Chidinma: UIMSAites who are not participating as athletes can still play a vital role in supporting the Pre-NiMSA games. They can contribute financially, attend events to cheer on their peers, and provide moral support to the athletes. We have made provisions for non-athlete members to be involved, so we encourage everyone to show up and support their fellow UIMSAites!

Are there any collaborations or partnerships with other organizations or sponsors for these events?

Chidinma: Currently, there are no formal collaborations or partnerships in place. However, we are actively working on a project called ‘Sponsor a UIMSAite for the NiMSA Games with 10,000 Naira.’ This initiative involves reaching out to alumni, particularly former executives of the association, to seek their support. By personalizing our appeals, we hope to encourage more donations from our alumni network.

Lastly, looking beyond the NiMSA games, what vision do you have for sports within UIMSA in the coming months?   

Chidinma: My long-term vision includes establishing a sustainable sports program that fosters continuous engagement and participation. I aim to achieve high levels of participation in all events and secure more victories for UIMSA in various competitions.

Thank you so much for your time.

Chidinma: Thank you for having me.

Sodiq Abdulsalam.

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