Ogun State Grassroots Sports Development will never be the same again!

Lee Evans Olympic Medalist
Image: Tea Rose via Flickr

“A vision that I never thought would become reality is now unfolding before my very eyes”, that is how that Nigerian  football icon and legend, former Green Eagles captain and IICC Shooting Stars FC of Ibadan forward, Patrick Olusegun Odegbami, MON, also known as The Mathematical (a nickname that stuck with him after being named by the legendary football commentator, Ernest Okonkwo) put it.

On Wednesday, 28th August 2019, arguably the world’s greatest sprints teacher and coach, former World record holder and Double Olympic Gold medallist, American legend, Lee Evans, arrived Wasimi Orile, a hamlet in Ewekoro Local Government Area of Ogun State, to the campus of Segun Odegbami International College and Sports Academy, SOCA, to start a program of athletes development in the school to compliment the Academy’s vision to be the best such sports and academics institution in the world.

Lee resumed his service (the school can never pay him what he is worth) in Wasimi with a session on the day with the Youth Summer campers that rounded off their camp on Thursday.

It was a mutually beneficial, memorable and exciting exercise, and will continue to be, with Lee in place for the Academy.

When the school resumes in September, Lee Evans will be helping to design additional indigenous sports facilities, a unique curricular for the school’s sports development program, training courses for coaches and games masters in the area and Ogun State as a whole, discovering and placing young talented boys and girls in programs in the USA, and, generally, taking SOCA to new heights that will make the school and Ogun State to become models of athletes’ and athletics development in the South West.

The training regimen will unarguably impact the various sports (football, tennis, basketball and athletics) in the school.

Ogun State grassroots sports development will never be the same again, so he said, and all hands are on deck to make Lee Evans’s stay in SOCA and Ogun State, the best experience for all the lucky boys and girls resuming in September in the Academy.

“Conceive it, believe it, and achieve it!” It is the culmination of the hard work, negotiation, goodwill and communication put in by Chief Segun Odegbami, the proprietor of the Academy, in past months. SOCA, has been in existence for over 12 years and has been quietly producing future sports stars for Nigeria.

Segun Odegbami International College & Sports Academy is Nigeria’s FIRST and ONLY co-educational multi-sports secondary school established in 2007. First named The International (Sports) Academy, it is a specialized multi-sports Secondary School of Excellence for boys and girls with exceptional talent in sports and the arts.

The school is a specialist institution that provides young boys and girls with interest, talent and passion for sports, with the opportunity to undergo intensive 6 years of academic studies combined with sports at a very high level.

The school runs a six -year (JSS1 to SS3) programme that empowers the students with a good educational foundation that significantly improves their sports and prepares them for further education in tertiary institutions here in Nigeria or abroad or for a professional sports career.

The school offers courses in Arts, Commerce, and Science subjects up to WAEC, GCE O’Levels, Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT) and NECO, plus, vocational courses in photography, cinematography and tourism

This is the first such senior secondary school in Nigeria that provides this unique service to children. In 12 years of the school’s establishment, since January 2007, the school has succeeded in exporting extremely talented athletes (footballers, basket ballers and tennis players) to colleges and universities in the United States of America where they are effectively honing their sports talent and getting first class education, all on full scholar-athlete American scholarships.

Using their specially trained teachers, instructors and coaches, the Academy offers a comprehensive development programme through sport academies in 5 different sports within the school namely, basketball, tennis, athletics, table tennis and football.

Upon graduation our students have the opportunity of pursuing an associate degree from its partner school, Wayne County Community College, in Detroit, USA.

Awards:

 The school was nominated for an international award, several years ago, by an international organisation in the UK, Beyond Sports, as one of 35 such institutions in the world using sports to drive social inclusion in the communities they are located.

The school’s website is www.socaschool.com

Other Awards include, GLO LISABI CHAMPIONS (2011 & 2012), MTN FOOTBALL SCHOLARS (2011 & 2012)

About Lee Evans:

“Lee Edward Evans (born February 25, 1947) is an American Olympian from the 1968 Summer Olympics where he ran track and was part of the boycott and black power movement.

Evans was an influential leader in regards to the black power movement. The Olympic Project for Human Rights began with black students protesting in order to have equal housing opportunities and was made into the black power movement after a Tommie Smith interview. Tommie Smith and John Carlos were the face of the movement, but Smith and Evans were the driving forces behind the movement. Carlos was said to have not even come to any of the meetings of the group, but when it came time to be in the spotlight, he took his chance and claimed his spot in the history books. The black athletes of the 1968 Mexican Olympics chose not to protest the Olympics as a whole, instead they chose to protest by wearing an article of black clothing during every event in which they participated. Evans wanted the world to understand the way he felt about the Mexican Olympic Games but did not want to take away from the winners and the sports themselves. In regards to the South African Olympic Ban, Vince Matthews asked Evans what would happen after the verdict because of his position as OPHR organizer. Evans replied by saying that it was unclear as to what the International Olympic Committee would decide, but whatever the decision was the United States Olympic Team would stick together. Evans received death threats prior to and during the Olympics and claimed that had he not had these threats on his mind he probably could have run faster than he did, even though he broke a world record. Evans won the 1968 Olympic trials at Echo Summit, California with a world record 44.06 and demolished it in the Olympic final, winning in 43.86 seconds aged 21 years and 8 months, from which he still stands as the tenth best performer in history. Evans won a second gold as the anchor-man on the 4 × 400 m relay team, setting another world record of 2:56.16. Both the times stood as a world record for almost twenty years (the relay, for almost 24 years). While accepting the relay Gold medal Evans, with fellow African-American medallists Larry James and Ron Freeman, received their medals wearing berets in imitation of the Black Panther Party. After winning the AAU 400 m titles in 1969 and 1972, Evans finished only fourth in the 1972 Olympic trials, but was named a member of the 4 × 400 m relay team once more. However, the United States couldn’t field a team because Vincent Matthews and Wayne Collett were suspended by the IOC for a demonstration at a medal ceremony similar to the one staged by Tommie Smith and John Carlos in the previous Olympics.

Evans became a professional after the 1972 season joining the International Track Association (ITA) tour. He had some success on the ITA tour notably setting a 600 m indoors world best at the first meet in Idaho State University’s Minidome. The ITA folded in 1976 and Evans was reinstated as an amateur in 1980 and ran a 46.5 in one of his few appearances that year, at the age of thirty-three. Evans went on to head the national athletics programs in six different African Nations before accepting a position as head cross country/track & field coach at the University of South Alabama. Upon fulfilling his contract, Evans plans to return to either Africa or Mexico where “you are truly free – not like this fake freedom America has everybody believing in.” Evans’ college and amateur careers as well as his involvement in the Civil Rights Movement is chronicled in Frank Murphy’s The Last Protest: Lee Evans in Mexico City. Evans was inducted into the United States National Track and Field Hall of Fame in 1983” (From Wikipedia)

Yes, Ogun State Grassroots Sports Development will never be the same again, indeed!!!!

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Image: By Tea Rose via Flickr/Wikimedia

Written by
Akintokunbo A Adejumo
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