Football Commissioner: Is Bobby’s Promise Of More Sports Just Another Tall Tale?

By: Yusuf Rahmon

The presence of sports within the walls of the Great Independence Hall has traditionally been defined by the roar of goals during intense football matches at the Maracana pitch. Notably, the current Sports Commissioner, Odunukan Oluwagbemiga Collins, promised to change the status quo while vying for the position in the last session. Recognized by his alias “Bobby Jay,” Mr Odunukan Collins promised to incorporate more sports if voted as he underscored the necessity for diversifying sports beyond the predominant focus on football in Independence Hall. However, after almost eight months in office, Katangites still wait to see the light of sports diversification.

What Does The Constitution Say?

Section IX under Article VI of the Constitution delineates the function of the Sports Commissioner, outlining five functions bordering on overseeing sports activities, welfare of sports personnel, and maintenance of sports facilities in the hall.
Commendably, Mr. Collins attempted to cover every relevant aspect of his duties by proposing a 5-item objective in his manifesto. However, it is one thing to propose and another to see the ideas through. Mr. Collins has effectively served as the Chairman of the Supporters Club, notably with the successful introduction of the Indy Fans League. Thus, we can say that at least one of the five constitutional duties has been judiciously carried out by the Sports Commissioner as we ride towards the end of the session.

A Walk Through His Manifesto -Increased Participation

Mr Odunukan Collins’s first objective in his manifesto was to ensure increased participation in sports activities within the hall through the provision of indoor games and the introduction of interesting online activities. He clearly stated that “People exhibit a form of apathy towards sports as a result of the emphasis placed mostly on football. I plan to help people overcome this constraint by incorporating more sports, especially indoor games, which are relaxing and mind-tasking simultaneously”. He was right in his statement since football is the only significant sports activity within the hall. Still, it is sad that after months of his commissioning, nothing has changed. The indoor games he listed in his manifesto – chess, ludo, scrabble, and card games never arrived, and the only time that these games were played in the hall was during the game day organized by the Social and Buttery Commissioner recently. How ironic is it that the Social and Buttery Commissioner can organize a game day while the Sports Commissioner still struggles to provide just one indoor game for the hall? Apart from the recent introduction of the tennis table and notable involvement of Katangites in playing Tennis amongst themselves, it can easily be stated that the Sports Commissioner did not give adequate attention to other sports besides football as he promised.

Furthermore, Bobby Jay included the introduction of online activities as another method of promoting increased participation in sports within the hall. To achieve this, he highlighted the fantasy premier league, e-football, and Call of Duty mobile, among other popular games, as tools he will utilize to engage Katangites online. So, he promptly established a WhatsApp group and formed the Katanga community on the Fantasy Premier League as soon as the Premier League season began; however, that was it. Since then, this is the only online event that has been orchestrated, and there are no plans to bring more on board.
During our discussion with him on the effectiveness of his efforts to boost sports participation, Mr. Collins asserted that he and his team have actively reinfused online activities through fantasy sports to maintain engagement, despite his manifesto initially promising the inclusion of additional games. Furthermore, he mentioned that diversifying sports activities within the hall may likely occur during the KEFA inter-floor tournament. Sincerely, these reasons are poor attempts to mask his failure to deliver the centerpiece of his manifesto since sports in Katanga still translates to football.

The Freshmen Tour And The ‘Aside’ Football Tour.

Moving forward, the next item on the manifesto of the Sports Commissioner discusses his concept of freshmen tours. According to his manifesto, this idea was inspired by the exposure he gained during his 100-level days while representing the hall in football games, and he believes every freshman should experience the same. He explicitly explained the nature of the tour in his manifesto by noting that “The freshmen tour would feature “aside” football games for the Katanga freshmen against some of their counterparts in other halls of residence…”. Remarkably, the freshmen have participated in football tours, achieving an unbeaten record.

Indy Hall Fan League: His Best Work Yet?

Next, the Sports Commissioner promised to introduce the Indy Hall Fans League, and every Katangite will agree that he has done incredibly well to not only bring this to light but to sustain it week in and week out. On Saturday mornings, many Katagites are greeted by the lively ambiance emanating from Block A, where spectators cheer their representatives. One can see the colorful variation promised by Bobby Jay, not only from the array of football jerseys but in the waves of laughter that follow every dribble and awkwardness on the pitch.

The Fans League has provided football fans in Independence Hall to represent their teams on the pitch and put their legs where their mouth is. The formation of Young Boys FC, a team consisting of only 100L students, makes the idea more worthy of the praise it has received since it bridged the gap between first-year students and staylites to a considerable extent. Vividly, the effort that Mr. Collins purportedly invested in this endeavor has yielded commendable results.

The Katanga Warrior Chronicles Might Not See The Light Of Day

The Katanga Warrior Chronicles is the next agenda on the Sports Commissioner’s manifesto and is another question of “when” for the Katangites. The warrior chronicles, as described in the manifesto of the Sports Commissioner, were to be a weekly or biweekly attachment that would capture the profiles of Katangites venturing into various sports within the university and help curate a database of these warriors ahead of the interhall events. The chronicles were also intended to serve as a source of motivation for aspiring athletes and provide them with tips to maintain their fitness. Sadly, after weeks since coming into office, the wait for the launch of the Chronicles continues.
In explaining the delay, the Sports Commissioner said there was a change in plan, and the committee dropped the initial method to adopt a more creative format. He elaborated that the new concept, “INDY 20,” will deviate from the previous weekly or biweekly releases; instead, only a single release will be made before the semester concludes. While the new concept may seem sensible, limiting the inclusion to only 20 Katangites from the multitude of talented individuals in the hall, especially when there was ample time to acknowledge every warrior, represents a significant setback for the Sports Commissioner and his committee. Opting for a single release starkly contrasts the promises outlined in his manifesto. If it does have any impact, it pales in comparison to the inspiration aspiring sportsmen would have derived if the initial plans were stuck to.

On My Mark! Set! Katanga Won’t Run!

To conclude his manifesto, Mr. Collins pledged to organize a Katanga run for all Katanga athletes. However, following our interview with him, it became clear that the run would never happen, at least not during his tenure. Hence, this makes it the second consecutive time he failed to fulfill promises from his manifesto. In his defense, he explained that the run was scheduled to take place this semester (2nd semester), but unforeseen circumstances such as the Vice-Chancellor’s Marathon and the extensive schedule of sports events prevented its execution. Despite these explanations, it is only apparent that the tenure of the Sports Commissioners has been a show of inadequate planning.

“Per my constitutional duties, it is required I see to the provision and maintenance of sports facilities in the hall.” these were the opening words of the last agenda on the Sports Commissioner’s manifesto. According to the manifesto, he intended to fulfill this responsibility by procuring sponsorships for the hall from various prominent brands such as Nestle, Airtel, GTB, Zenith, and others, alongside student brands like Salturns. Ironically, not a single sponsorship was secured, and rather than the sports facilities being maintained, they have steadily deteriorated, becoming a mere shadow of their former selves. The table-tennis board set purchased at the beginning of the session, which now suffers from daily wear and tear, and the Maracana that has continued to deteriorate over time are arm-length examples.
As an alternative, the Sports Commissioner highlighted the arrangement of Alumni games to solicit more funds to play his constitutional role. The one and only Alumni game was held in the first semester and there was no record of any funding from the game. Speaking on this, the Sports Commissioner blamed the current economic situation for his inability to secure a sponsorship for the hall. However, he hopes to get affirmative responses from some potential sponsors he has contacted recently.
Based on the Sports Commissioner’s performance, he would be considered a big FLOP in the realm of sports if there are no improvements by the end of the session. His tenure has been marked by unfulfilled promises with unconvincing justifications for his failures. While his manifesto boasts achievable goals, there has been a parallel line between their feasibility on paper and reality. Nonetheless, the window for redemption is still open, and every Katangite hopes he can make amends before the final whistle is blown.

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