I congratulate all of you for being selected to represent the University of Ibadan at the NUGA games beginning tomorrow. No one gets selected for this kind of task while lying down and sleeping, or whiling away time pressing smart phones. All of you who got selected have worked very hard physically, socially and also mentally.
You have exercised physical discipline – rising up to go for training when your body felt like it, but also rising up to go for training when your body did not feel it. That is physical discipline. You have also exercised moral and social discipline in obedience to your coaches and team leaders, and in civility and cooperation with others in your team. Sometimes team members can be annoying. I’m sure you agree. It takes restraint and discipline to cooperate and ensure decorum. As a result of these acts of discipline, you outperformed your other colleagues and now you are standing on behalf of the University of Ibadan.
Therefore, you are already winners. You have reason to rejoice, maybe to even boast. However, let me appeal to you that this is just the start. The one who starts his or her journey should not be praised as much as the one who completed his or hers. Completing the journey which you are starting requires focusing on three things.
First, keep your eye on the goal. Focus on the medal. Give it your all. If you qualify to represent UI, you also qualify to glorify UI by your super performance. You are all young, energetic, beautiful and/or handsome. Because of this you will come under the pressure of distraction. You will come under temptation of self-indulgence, relaxation and indiscipline. A focus on the goal keeps you goal-getting.
Second, keep your eye on the name, University of Ibadan. You are riding on the back of a heritage of 74 years. That reputation should NOT be tarnished by you. And you know what tarnishes reputations in sports: cheating, drugs, unruly conduct especially disrespect to referees, coaches, teammates and your opponents. Kindly avoid all these. Do you know that there are things you can do that can earn UI a ban from NUGA? But that is not the reputation you have inherited. For 74 years, we have distinguished ourselves and built a reputation of honesty, fairness and excellence in sports. Join those who went before you to build on that, and not to tear it down. I often say it: everywhere you turn, you hear people say this: if it is from the University of Ibadan, it can only be of the best quality. That is referring to you all – be of the best quality in all aspects of this competition.
Third and final, keep your eyes on your career. I don’t know what you think of yourself but in my inner eyes, I know I am not talking to undergraduate students, or postgraduate students, or university sportsmen and women. No. In my mind, I am talking to the Olympic medallists of tomorrow, standing right here in front of me. And that is who you are. And that tomorrow is not far away at all. Your future is bright; this is not all you are going to be. Bigger global games, wins and victories are waiting for you. Do not ruin these big and bright future chances by the indiscipline of today. This is just a start.
As you go and compete, rest assured that you have all our support, good wishes and prayers every minute of this competition.
I will be right here waiting to receive you back and celebrate your many victories.
Go, glow and do great things!