Sportlight Series (01): 2k19 Sportsmen and Sportswomen

You might have heard or seen the phrase ‘June doctors’ quite frequently over the last couple of weeks. Just like some other sets of Ibadan doctors over the past years, the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan will be producing freshly minted doctors – again – in the month of June. So when I use this phrase, I want you to imagine a group of stellar individuals who have – through the odds – distinguished themselves in medical school. I’d like you to envision the group of soon-to-be-doctors who started their journey seven years, three months, and 23 days ago at CBN Lecture Hall and have ended it at the college.

Graduating from an educational institution — not just any educational institution, but the College of Medicine, University of Ibadan, in particular — is a significant milestone for any student, but for sportspersons, this achievement often represents a unique blend of academic success and athletic dedication. These individuals have balanced rigorous training schedules and intense competitions with the demands of COMUI’s gruelling curriculum.

The Lotus, popularly known as Panthers by other classes in the association, drew the curtain on medical school in a grand style, being the most decorated class in the most recent Ulympics in the 62nd healthweek. While the importance of teamwork in competitions cannot be overemphasised, the importance of acknowledging “key” players cannot also be overlooked. For posterity’s sake and, to be honest, to satisfy my curiosity, I interviewed 6 of these “key” sportspersons to hear what they have to say about their special moments, sacrifices they had to make, and what they think the future holds for UIMSA sports.


Jesufemi in a photo shoot session for Ulympics Volleyball.

Imagine my surprise when I found out that UIMSA’s tallest man doesn’t represent UIMSA in basketball competitions; rather, he plays volleyball. He captains UIMSA, ABH, Clinical Sciences, and his class (Panthers) team. When asked about the huge responsibility, he said, “Didn’t feel like it, though; I loved to play”.

He has led these teams to 4 different podium finishes: Two Ulympics Golds with the Panthers, One Interfaculty Gold with the Clinical Sciences team, and One Interhall Silver with the ABH team. While reminiscing on his favorite moment on any team shirt, he said it had to be when the Clinical Sciences team defeated the Faculty of Education to clinch gold at the Interfaculty games. 

On the future of volleyball in UIMSA, I asked him about his confidence in the team defending the cup at this year’s Interhall competition; he expressed his confidence in the team, although he raised concerns about the team constantly fielding the same set of players and he recommended that the only way to tackle it is more recruitment of interested players and by honing their skills by consistent training.


Eniola smiling at the Camera, holding her gold medal presented to her by Olamide Jayeoba, UIMSA’s 62nd Vice President.

In my conversation with the beautiful Eniola, my first question was, “How many sports do you even play?” If you followed the last Ulympics, you’d understand why. Her reply was 6! She plays football, table tennis, badminton, volleyball, and basketball and swims. From all of these sports (aside from badminton and swimming), she has garnered about 13 medals. Impressive right? Some of them are:

  • Gold in Female Table tennis Ulympics 2024
  • Gold in Volleyball UIympics 2024
  • Gold in Basketball (Female) 3*3 Interhall
  • Gold in Basketball (Mixed) for NIMSA SW 2019
  • ⁠Gold in Basketball (2k19) for UIMSA 60th Health week competition
  • Gold in Table tennis Female in UIMSA 60th Health Week competition.
  • Gold in the Christopher Osunbote Games III Table tennis Female competition.

When asked about her favorite sporting memory, she shared that it was clinching the gold medal in mixed basketball at the NIMSA SW Games held at ABUAD, because she was the only female on the team and made new friends. On the flip side, her worst memory was in female football during the 62nd Ulympics when her class (Panthers) were knocked out in the semifinals by Óká.

The question on my – and everyone’s – lips when we saw Eniola’s show during the Ulympics was why she wasn’t on the UIMSA female team. When I asked, she responded that she didn’t know about the team until her 500 level. 

I consider it a loss to the female team, considering her talents.


Victor Audu in action.

Next on the list of sportspersons is the relatively reserved Victor. Victor has been playing basketball for about ten years now; he wishes it was a more popular sport in UIMSA and in Nigeria as a whole. At that juncture, I asked him the things he would recommend the sports secretary did to achieve this; his recommendations were;

  • Ensure there are central basketball captains (having one on the preclinical side as well would be fantastic) that oversee practice and participation.
  • Organize occasional interclass or, at the very least, inter-arm (clinical versus preclinical arm) competitions.

It seems the association’s sports secretary has some work to do.

As for medals, he won gold at ABH’s King of Court, bronze for UIMSA at the 2019 NIMSA Games, two gold medals for Panthers at Ulympics and a personal MVP medal.

Aside from basketball, he also enjoys playing badminton.


Basit with his silver medal at the Ulympics ’24 male football final.

My chat with Capitano was an emotional one for me because, together, we fought many battles in the middle of the park, and his inclusion in this article cements the fact that we may never play together again under UIMSA. The reason behind the nickname Capitano isn’t far-fetched, as Basit served as the captain for the Panthers, ABH, UIMSA, and Clinical Science teams. This is impressive because he never played in any of the teams until his class crossed over to UCH in 2019.

His favorite moment in any team shirt was when Stampede FC, a team in the Alexander Brown Hall League, completed the treble by winning the ABH FA Cup, ABH Super Cup and ABH League. As for the most disappointing moment, he said he had a couple, and if he had to choose one, it had to be losing very cheaply in the semifinals at last year’s Seals Cup after having a terrific run throughout the tournament.

On a lighter note, we talked about how he managed to keep attendance up in ward rounds and afternoon classes despite the barrage of training sessions and competitions, to which he confessed to missing out on some. He also shared how playing football has helped him secure connections with some resident doctors, alumni and other people at the university.

My last question to Capitano was if he had any advice for the next captain of the teams. To this, he first put it out that it wasn’t going to be easy, but then with dedication and proper demonstration of leadership, the next captain will lead the Ibadan Medicine football team to even greater heights.


Olorunyomi finishing 1st in the 100m female category.

You can easily guess she plays sports if you have seen the graceful Olorunyomi. My conversation with her was so warm and effusive, it reminded me of a 4:30PM kick-off match on SUB pitch. I learnt that she plays football and basketball (not so much anymore) and participates in athletics – sprint races. Sadly, her reason for no longer playing basketball was the lack of a coach after the COVID break. 

She started playing football with her brothers when she was younger. Her secondary school teacher smothered her interest in running, but thankfully, it was reignited in her 400 level. Her medal cabinet is far from empty, she boasts:

  • Gold- female basketball 60th Health Week
  • Gold- 100m female 62nd Health Week
  • Gold- 4x100m mixed relay 62nd Health Week 
  • Bronze- Balogun Cross Olympics UCH detachment
  • Silver- xXx Hoops

Her best and worst moments were wrapped into one as her heroic brace against Óká couldn’t save the Panthers from being kicked out of the most recent Ulympics female football competition. 

Having served as a sports secretary in the past, I felt the need to see the seemingly “unsolvable” problem of female participation in UIMSA sports through her lenses. She agreed that it was a problem and made a few recommendations to the sports secretary on how to combat it. They were:

  • If you want to introduce new sports, ask around and see what sports both genders would be interested in. 
  • They’re more likely to learn and continue learning if there’s a coach to train them, so get one if you can. 
  • Don’t give up and assume that females don’t like sports like most people do; it’ll take some time, but it’s possible. Keep at it.


Obeya giving instructions from the sidelines as the coach of the Panthers team in the last male football final.

My final interview was with none other than the legendary Obeya. Different people attribute his legendary status to various things; today, I will focus on his tactical acumen. 

Mark was the head coach of the Panthers, UIMSA, and ABH teams. He took control of the UIMSA team in May 2023 and won his first silverware- the USA Cup, with the team that same month.

When asked about whether he had a hand in how the Panthers became so good at sports overnight, he pointed out that it was the result of deliberate and collective efforts of the class; he further explained that he was made senator of sports in the class, so he ensured that there were coaches and captains for each of the teams. This ensured adequate preparation before Ulympics.

In a similar fashion, the UIMSA team was markedly rejuvenated when he took over. This was evident when Ibadan Medicine took UI by storm at the Seals Cup competition held in October 2023. The team played with characteristic high intensity, and fans dubbed it hypertension football or Obeya ball. When I asked him how he managed to get student doctors to perform at such a high level, he said he scouted preclinical players – something that wasn’t particularly common, he personally convinced some of the players to come to play for him; he also held team talks on Google Meet to overcome the UI-UCH divide. He didn’t rule out that he was lucky to have a lot of players with great profiles all at the same time.

As for his favourite and worst moments with the teams, he said he couldn’t pick between his win against Nnamdi Azikiwe Hall in the Interhall football competition and the win against Industrial Production Engineering (IPE) in the quarter finals Seals Cup for his favourite moment. However, he mentioned that the IPE game might edge it because of the crowd it pulled. His worst moment was, however, undoubtedly the loss in the semifinals to Political Science in the Seals Cup. In his words, “I didn’t recover from it for a long time”.

My next question was whether he felt there was something he should have done, but he didn’t do it. To this, he replied, “In retrospect, I should have brought on Teslim in that game [the Seal’s Cup loss], but I didn’t because of disciplinary issues; maybe I should have overlooked it”. 

Finally, I asked what he thought about the man who filled his shoes and the team’s prospects in the coming NIMSA Games. He responded by saying that Liam- his successor- is a different type of coach, and he’s sure that he will do his thing. However, he advised that he communicated with his technical staff properly and that he should commence training for the NIMSA Games as soon as possible because the more the players train for tournaments, the more motivated they feel to play in them.

The Panthers have no doubt made their mark on UIMSA both generally and in sports; they surely will be sorely missed. As I conclude writing this piece, I urge our June Doctors not to allow Housejob to steal their love for sports.

Gerald Olokungbemi.

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