In part one of this topic, we narrated Ayo facilities up to 2003 when Ayo debuted as a demonstration sports at the 8th All Africa Games in Abuja, we will now move to ABUJA 2004 which was the 14th National Sports Festival in Nigeria.
At ABUJA 2004, Ayo secured another high class and high sounding arena. Ayo was played at International Conference Center, Abuja. It was a great pride for our local Ayo players and officials to find themselves inside the one and only International Conference Center of which the nearest they ever got to it was viewing President Olusegun Obasanjo presiding over a function there on their television sets. The facilities were also very fascinating that, many Television stations covered our Ayo over and over again. In fact, the Osun State Traditional Sport group organized a mini studio for me as the then President of Traditional Sports Federation of Nigeria for a local program that was aired weekly in Osun state. I was specially recorded so that they would relay it on that their weekly program. Yes, that is the multiplier effects of good facilities and effective leadership.
At Abuja 2004, not only that we used the excellent facilities well, we also extended our versatility to the Radio House. We went to participate in live-broadcast program inside the Radio Nigeria House, communicating to the world on Traditional Sport to the pleasant surprise of the officials of the Sports Ministry, the general public and the envy of other Sports Federations that were seen to be higher than TSFN on the “pecking order” of the Sports Ministry.
This is the essence of having qualitative, committed and productive leadership in place for a sport federation. Our Secretariat under the then Secretary General of TSFN, Mrs. K.A Adekola was very effective with her assistants like Mr. James Eakyns and others, working harmoniously to get excellent results. Equally, the then chairman of technical Committee Mr. S.A. Daudu, highly experienced and knowledgeable, oversees the technical aspect of the competitions with utmost attention, astute and devotion to ensure honest, accurate results. The technical judges in our five scoring sports (Abula, Ayo, Dambe, Kokowa and Langa) knew that the President together with the Chairman of Technical would not tolerate compromise as many of the matches were video recorded randomly. It must be stated that right facilities will produce right results provided the people at the helm of affairs do the right things. Facilities are basic. Right usage is another thing when the two are properly entwined; they produce excellent results as we had at ABUJA 2004.
The Radio is another separate facility, but we were able to use it to produce a great effect on our Traditional Sports. There are connectivity and convertibility of facilities and their usage to enhance what you use the facilities for. However, the resultant effect of the usage of a facility may depend on the leadership style and the environment.
At Gateway 2006, Ayo was played in a classroom of a secondary school. Normal classroom, concrete floor, normal ceiling, large windows, well ventilated.
Really, the dream Ayo facilities at the level of Nigeria National Sports Festival should be to provide a good sports hall or a good hall, if possible with terrace and divide the hall into three segments; the first segment for the players, a gap between the first and the second segment, the second segment is for the spectators and the third segment is the space for a big screen whereby the live video coverage of the players will be transmitted through projector with cool commentary being ran into it, to carry the spectators along. This will give live and good spectatorship to Ayo. It’s large spectatorship that would attract corporate sponsorship to Ayo. It is conservative to believe that the 0.8m to 1.2m long Ayo board is the only attraction for Ayo. It is much more than that. It is true that the Ayo board is the nucleus of the Ayo equipment; the other parts of the nucleus cannot be neglected or taken for granted. So any State bidding to host the National Sports Festival should take this article very seriously in providing appropriate facilities and equipment for our sports in adequate quantity and quality and in a very accessible location.
At Kada 2008, Kaduna, Ayo was held in a School Hall too as in Edo 2002. It was well ventilated, lit and decent. At PortHarcourt 2011, Ayo was in a medium-sized hall at the Civic Centre, a great facility for sports. It was quite conducive and high sounding centre too. It was designed to be air-conditioned hall. It was well lit. In fact the Ayo venue at Port Harcourt and Eko 2012 were very similar in size and arrangement. They were like identical twin sisters. Ayo was held in one of the decent medium sized hall at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere Lagos, Nigeria.
The scenario described above about “the dream Ayo facilities” was finally and practically experimented by your afrotradosports man Elias Yusuf at Eko 2012 in Lagos Nigeria. It was very successful. However, the arrangement was slightly amended as the medium sized air-conditioned hall with two opposing entries for Ayo was divided into four segments to carry out the competition. First segment was the controlling table for officials controlling the competition (with its own terminal entry door). Officials were located where they could oversee the whole of the hall where the competition was taking place without any hindrance. The second segment was the competitors’ and judges tables and chairs, then there was a small gap before the seats of the spectators were arranged to back the competitors and to face the projector screen in one corner to avoid it interfering with the on-going “playing” but allowing the spectators (and other competitors and officials not competing) to watch the competition going on live. The athletes, their coaches and spectators entered from the opposite door to the official’s door. The dream which your afrotradosports man had been having on the idea over the years, finally materialized and it was very successful. So it is expected that this arrangement will now be followed whenever we have standard championship in Ayo until when a bigger dream on Ayo which is tagged “Afrotradosports Ayo infrastructure” will be made available as Ayo and African Billiards Arenas are basically similar.
It was also observed, that it is very important, essential and of great necessity that we should use very standard, neat and pleasing-to-see Ayo boards for our competitions being videoed. It was very shabby viewing some Ayo boards on the screen. It belittles the championship when watched on the television, seeing shabby ayoboards is annoying, displeasing and producing poor effects on the championship.
Also, the athletes/players must dress well and have a way to indicate adequately, the groups/states they represent. And if double athletes, the two players should wear the same jersey even if it is male and female in mixed doubles.
Also, the officials must show alertness all the time, demonstrating their efficiency and effectiveness in judging the competition when viewed on the screen. They should also wear their official judge’s dress well and each displaying demeanors and dispositions of an incorruptible judge without displaying long-face.
If our sports are to be respected, the way they are projected on the screen is very important to us especially in this age of ICT/Internet usage. Any of our competition can go viral worldwide anytime-anywhere, any day and anytime in the future years too.
As this write up is going to end on a very un-conventional note, because we started with definitions and we are closing it up with another definition, it is just to further entertain you on afrotradosports, if you do not mind. Do you? No never, I believe. It just a play on words. Afrotradosports sees the word “infrastructure” as the “mother” of the word “facilities” so, when things look up well for African Billiards and Ayo, we are dreaming a great infrastructure that will be built specially for African Billiards and Ayo as “African Billiards/Ayo Arena(s).
Mallam Elias Yusuf.