I used to be jolted by a buddy’s quick message final weekend. He had learn ‘My message to Nigerian youths – Gene and Geography’. He determined that the article wanted a response, which he delivered in a slightly scathing, rhetorical assertion pregnant with which means.
Sadiq Abdullahi wrote from America: ‘I’ve learn your piece in the present day. Nonetheless it isn’t clear what you need us, the readers, to do. For me, the problem has at all times been ‘how’ not ‘what’.
In different phrases, motion ought to communicate louder than voice. Very true. For too lengthy many people sports activities analysts have directed our criticism at authorities, blaming all of the failures in sports activities on the failure of governments to do the correct issues, appoint the correct of management, and prioritise the sector for the advantage of the youths. We can not proceed to stay in that unyielding bubble. We should discover outdoors the traditional field of presidency and search different choices. We should begin to drink from the fountain of latest concepts.
That’s what Sadiq Abdullahi, former African Tennis champion, Olympian, adjunct professor in a college, all the best way from his base in Miami, Florida, needed me to inform us: the ‘how’ to make issues occur.
With the present state of Nigeria and the failures in nearly all sectors which are thought of much more essential than ‘mere’ sport, to proceed to hope that something would change quickly by way of authorities involvement could also be wishful and silly. Successive governments at State and nationwide ranges have did not see sport past its recreation content material, and to understand its energy sport to affect society tremendously and turn into a serious contributor to the economic system to the nation. It’s unlikely that extra criticisms will change these attitudes even now. So, rightly, we should search different choices.
So, Sadiq’s response is a reminder, one other wake-up name to new considering.
It can be crucial that I recall the story of one other nation, and the way the work of 1 man modified the story of Jamaica for good in lower than three a long time. I imagine we will take a look at that story and use it as a easy information into new considering outdoors an overburdened authorities.
It is a quick story of Dennis Johnson as informed to me by my buddy Ron Davis, with some research I did on-line. As was the observe on the time within the early 1960s, Dennis Johnson, a Jamaican, accomplished Highschool and went to San Jose State College, SJSU, in Alabama, USA, for a level program. He was an athlete, a sprinter. Two years into the athletics program at SJSU below a White coach named Bud Winters, Dennis Johnson broke two world data in sprinting and have become a world star. Together with different largely Black athletes, the college, with its previous dirt-track, turned often known as Velocity Metropolis.
Bud Winters had developed a singular coaching program that turned legend. Beneath him a few of America’s biggest all-time sprinters had been birthed. In all, Bud Winters influenced the emergence of sprinters that dominated the world of sprints, together with Tommie Smith, John Carlos and Lee Evans, all of them of the well-known raised-fists on the 1968 Olympics.
In all, Bud Winters coached 37 world–document breakers and 27 Olympic medalists coaching athletes at SJSU. He’s acknowledged as the best sprints coach in historical past.
Dennis Johnson noticed all of this, and when he returned to his nation, Jamaica, after graduating, he determined he would introduce the SJSU-style athletics program in Jamaica.
He didn’t wait for presidency to undertake his program. Based on one other coach who was additionally at San Jose College on the time, Dennis simply transferred all the pieces he learnt at SJSU to Jamaica. Dennis discovered work as sporting director on the College of Expertise in Kingston, Jamaica. He handed down Bud Winter’s coaching method like a baton to coaches within the college together with Stephen Francis who later dealt with Ashafa Powell, and Glen Mills who later dealt with Usain Bolt plus a number of different Jamaican sprinters of the present technology.
The sprints revolution started throughout the campus of the College of Expertise in Kingston. The college remodeled into the very best efficiency centre for observe athletes in Jamaica, producing a steady stream of world-class athletes that transited Jamaica from an abnormal nation with potential into the best sprinters’ nation on the planet in simply over twenty years in each female and male sprinting. The emergence of this array of sprinters boosted the nation’s economic system by way of sports activities, and reversed the pattern of sending the perfect abilities to America so as to hone their pure endowments for sprinting.
The brand new technology of athletes introduced international recognition to Jamaica and fueled the institution of a home sports activities tradition in addition to the enterprise of sports activities in that little lower than four million inhabitants Black nation.
Go to any main and even minor observe meets on the planet in the present day and feast your eyes on the Jamaican youths lighting up the tracks, making good cash, and doing with the sprints what Kenyans and Ethiopians are doing to center and lengthy distance races around the globe for his or her international locations.
On the Beijing Olympics, of the nation’s 57 athletes that represented Jamaica, 52 of them competed in observe and area occasions. That speaks volumes concerning the state of sprinting in Jamaica.
The magic potent had been Bud Winters’ coaching strategies, philosophy and methodology. One author wrote that Jamaica turned saturated with the gospel of Winters’ coaching model.
Because of this, Jamaican athletes have gained a complete of 78 medals on the Olympics of their historical past, all however one medal had been gained in athletics, and all however three of these are within the particular person and relay dash occasions.
In three quick a long time, Jamaica has really turn into the sprints capital of the world. Earlier than Dennis Johnson got here again to Jamaica, the nation didn’t incorporate sports activities into the educational curriculum of Jamaica’s faculties. So, a lot of the nation’s ‘uncooked supplies’ in athletics migrated overseas after leaving highschool to coach and get the perfect out of their sport. Some really ended up operating for different international locations.
That’s how Don Quarrie migrated to the USA; Donovan Bailey migrated to Canada, together with Ben Johnson; Linford Christie competed for England; 8-time Olympic medalist, Marlene Ottey, went to America however ended up competing within the night of her profession for Slovenia. There have been others.
All of them wanted the US academic program to drive their sports activities growth and development. Dennis Johnson needed younger Jamaicans to have the school expertise with out leaving the Caribbean Islands. He discovered the reply by way of his experiences in SJSU below Bud Winters.
In fact, Dennis Johnson’s concepts didn’t instantly take a foothold in Jamaica. Removed from it. There have been preliminary apprehension and resistance. However he managed to persuade the President of the College of Expertise in Kingston to accommodate his athletics program and to grant younger athletes educational concessions to allow them mix the rigour of sports activities with their schooling. He borrowed a web page from Bud Winters coaching guide for sprinters – Loosen up and win. Dennis relaxed and stored plugging on the undertaking. The outcomes are there for the entire world to see in the present day.
The large migration of Jamaicans to America has decreased to a trickle and is now a selection just for some athletes. Observe and area athletics have grown to turn into a nationwide pastime, adopted and supported religiously by all Jamaicans. Jamaican sprinters have turn into a few of the hottest properties within the international sports activities business. Listed below are a number of extra names of Jamaican feminine athletes to tickle your creativeness– Sherry-Ann Fraser, Veronica Campbell Brown, Sandra Farmer-Patrick, Sandra Richards and so forth. Verify them out.
Dennis Johnson takes plenty of credit score for the sports activities revolution in Jamaica. Via his pioneering effort of passing on a selected coaching program to coaches, making a well-established establishment to accommodate athletes and provides them an schooling, working laborious with the few services on floor to coach and to compete, attracting and impacting hundreds of younger gifted Jamaican athletes that come from the inventory of Homo Sapiens in West Africa (from, certainly, Southern Nigeria) to check out on the tracks, Jamaican youths, female and male, now compete on the highest levels in sports activities bringing house the celebrity and fortune that go aspect by aspect with profitable by way of sprinting!
Besides we select to be blind, Dennis Johnson’s instance has opened our eyes as soon as once more to the probabilities of an excellent future for Nigeria’s younger girls and boys, naturally endowed with the identical DNA of energy, power and pace. We should begin to hone this pure useful resource right here in Nigeria, and solely market the ultimate product to the remainder of the world.
Like Jamaica did, we will additionally accomplish that.
Lee Evans, one of many disciples, merchandise and beneficiaries of Bud Winters ‘gospel’ on sports activities, one who has, himself being handed the unofficial title of ‘finest sprints coach on the planet’, is right here amongst us.
Sadiq Abdullahi, I wait to your hand to hitch with ours on the plough. Collectively we will stroll our discuss and lead younger Nigerian athletes, by way of a domesticated education-driven sports activities growth program to overcome the world and construct a brand new tradition and business for sports activities in Nigeria.
It may be completed. Let’s do it. 2030 is on my thoughts!