The International Sports Academy (TIA) was founded in November 2007. By that month TIA had enough infrastructure and facilities to start the school. Last year, 2016, the name was changed to Segun Odegbami International College and Sports Academy, SOCA. There was a good reason for that change in name. The public did not fully understand the philosophy of the academy and did not take enough advantage of the unique opportunity that SOCA offered, which I intend to: share with you again today. Even as I speak here now most people who are still making enquiries about the school think it is another football academy like so many others all over the country where boys train and play football with the objective of securing a professional contract abroad.
SOCA is much more than that.
It is, to start with, a school of academic instruction and learning, a full-fletched, normal secondary school, running the full federal Ministry of Education curriculum of academic programmes from JSS1 to SSS3. 6 years of education, covering, science, arts and commercial subjects, and leading to WASC and NECO national examinations. The school also operates a department of vocational studies with a full photography course of study. Second, the school is a multi-sport academy. It offers its students the necessary training and programme for development to hone their skills and ability in football” basketball, tennis and track events. So, there are 4 sports academies’ in the school.
The school has graduated 7 sets of graduates who have passed through the school and the school had passed through them. In 10 years of its, excitence difficult and challenging journey so far, we have enrolled boys and girls’ into the school as a result of their deep passion for sports, mostly football and usually their parents’ deep desire for a good education for them. Many of them made life difficult for their parents by insisting they wanted to play professional sports and were willing to even give up education, which the parents know is key and foundation to a successful life. So, when they eventually get around to understand the philosophy of the school, and visit to see what we do and what we have on ground, many of them eventually bring their children and have been mostly happy down the line that they did. They find out that the school offers some things that other’ schools do not, and what they themselves do not envisage before getting there!
So, what I tell everyone that wants to find out about SOCA is to brave the roads and pay a visit to the school. In SOCA, small as it is, we offer the students that pass through the school a four-in-one package:
(1) a great academic programme (2) a unique intense sports programme unavailable anywhere else (3) a proper human development schedule that promotes decent human conduct and good character, good citizenship, leadership and appreciation of higher moral and culture values – essential tools that prepare them for leadership in the world (4) the best opportunity to get ‘free’ higher education’ in American Colleges and Universities before going into the world to pursue any career of their choice including the professional sport they have a passion for.
How does SOCA achieve all these things?
SOCA is located in a pristine, serene,· and picturesque environment on the hills of Wasimi Orile, in Ogun State. You need to see it to believe it! It is far from the madding crowd where students can learn and play undisturbed by the hustle and bustle of urban life. The school is fully residential. Every student lives on the campus.
In the past few months, we have decided, to add all members of staff to that list of residents. They must now be – willing to live in the environment to get a place in the school. That way, we can build a very close knit community – a perfect setting to learn and train and teach! The school is co-educational – for boys and girls. It now also runs lessons during weekends for students interested in taking up the several courses now on offers provided by several American Colleges and Universities for placement. It prepares the students to sit for the Scholastic Aptitude Tests (SAT) required by American schools. The school runs a full time photography department as its choice of examinable, vocational subject. It has a small library, small multi-purpose but well-equipped science laboratory, small reading room, and a small but very functional IT centre. Indeed, everything about the school is designed to. be small – with a small population and minimum, basic but first class facilities!
Even when it has everything in place the architecture of the school, following lessons learnt from the experiences of the past 10 years, is to have a maximum population of not more than 120 students, 80 to100 boys and 20 to 40 girls. The school has the next few years to achieve this ‘small’ feat. How quickly it does would depend entirely on the kind and magnitude of support it gets from the public, That is why it is important that the message goes out and clearly.
In 2017, the population of the school is about 50% of the projected number. Having said that, all the sports programmes are running well except for the Track events academy that is operating at half steam in the absence of a full-track facility on the campus. Unlike any other school in the country, SOCA may be the only secondary school in Nigeria that exposes its entire : student population to a minimum of 3 hours of sports everyday! That is in addition to their full hours of academic work. The ultimate goal is to get to the 4-hours-a-day magic number that very talented athletes need to put into their sport from a very young age and hope to be global champions one day! But even at 3 to 4 hours a day, the results have been phenomenal in both academics and sports, In 10 years of this journey, the school has graduated 8 sets of students. With an average of 14 students every year, over one hundred students have passed through its programme. Their academic scores in WAEC and NECO exams have been exceptional. Of this number, over 90 percent have proceeded to embrace higher education before settling down into their professional sports dreams life. This way, they enjoy the best ,of two worlds, secure in their future life after sport, and empowered by a good education even within professional sport! In the past 7 years more than 30 students (about a third) of the graduates of the academy have been given admission on full scholar-athletes programmes, costing in the range of $50,000 each, per year, into American Colleges. It is, therefore, a life-time opportunity that we offer all children who come to SOCA.
Today, we are mastering the process of transition from SOCA model to American institutions on a full scholarship scale for our excelling students! More of them will go as the programme Orile, Ogun State improves yearly.
Many more of them are also in friendly universities and polytechnics in Nigeria, pursuing their education and sport course, and, still nursing the possibility of a sport career after graduating.
That’s the way it should be so that Nigeria can end this history of retired athletes ending up neglected and poor after their sports careers.
Incidentally, what SOCA is doing is appreciated more by outsiders than even parents within the country.
As a result of its social impact on the Wasimi Orile community, bringing attention and some development to the environment through employment for the villagers, installation of some basic utilities such as water and electricity to the area, and providing an interest- free revolving loans to all the women in the village, the school was nominated for an award by an international organisation in the UK some years ago called Beyond Sports. It recognised SOCA as one of 35 such projects in the world for its social inclusion impact!
In addition, through the work in the school I have become a very useful source of evidence and information from my experiences in the school to different national and international organisations on the effect and impact of what we are offering in the school on young students. That’s why the school is described as a laboratory of learning and sports.
We are constantly studying and investigating the impact of intense sports on young children.
We are learning the effect of intense sports on the academic abilities of young people.
We are developing and testing effective teaching methodologies that support children who do not like academics, or are poor or distracted in academics by their passion for sport.
For a child to be good in sport, is evidence of a sharp mind and intellect that can make academics interesting, fun and easy for them.
On the occasion of its 10th anniversary (and I believe this is God’s intervention and script) we are celebrating our breakthrough in the ease of learning and the quality of teaching we give to the children.
The introduction of e-learning, the use of computers to support the teaching in the school, has revolutionised our teaching and learning process in the school and given us a new lease of life that we intend to vigorously pursue into the future!
THE VISION FOR THE NEXT 10 YEARS!
It is that future that I want to bring to the attention of the public with the 10th anniversary celebrations from Thursday on the campus of our humble laboratory of learning! In the next 10 years we want to make SOCA the best such school in the world!
We intend to keep it still a small school, providing qualitative education and first class sports training. A new dawn actually starts in SOCA from Monday next week … with the anticipated active support of the public, corporate Nigeria, governments and individuals interested in what SOCA stands for and intends to achieve. Already we have started to receive unprecedented attention and support morally, materially and even financially. We shall acknowledge them all at an appropriate forum.
In the next two years the school shall run at full capacity with a total student population of 120 (100 boys and 20 girls), living in an un -crowded and first class accommodation facilities and receiving instructions in modern classrooms and functional fields with great equipment, all available on the campus.
All members of staff of the school will live in the environment. The number of football fields shall increase to 4. The basketball and tennis courts shall increase to 2 each. There shall be one laterite running track around one of the fields.
We shall construct modest, but functional structures for a second science laboratory, a cultural centre, a better equipped gymnasium, a more spacious IT centre, better and richer book and computer libraries, completion of the second classroom block, and permanent administrative block, an multi-purpose semi-closed indoor hall/auditorium, and small living quarters for our staffers on campus.
We intend to make the school and the Wasimi Orile village a single community one making an impaction the other as it is the practice in most advanced countries where cities and communities accommodate schools and help to build them into institutions.
SOCA shall become self-sufficient in food production for the students and staff and shall have a water treatment plant so that we do not have to buy all the water the students drink now.
In the next few years, when the policy of using only genuine students for under-17 national and international competitions.
become operative, SOCA shall become a ready source of event authentic athletes in football, tennis, basketball and track athletics for our national teams.
On Thursday we shall be revealing the architectural sketches for the structures that still need to be put in place in the next 10 years!
SOCA is an NGO, a non-for-profit organisation. To train each student every year costs us over one million naira.
Since inception, the school has been heavily subsided. Many of my friends and friendly organisations have quietly contributed substantially to the school without asking for anything in return. The least I can do is also to acknowledge them from time to time.
I shall be doing so in Wasimi Orile on Thursday, but permit me to mention a few names here as I round off.
I cannot end this without paying some of them special tribute.
Mr. Haresh Aswani, Chairman of De-United Foods, Mr. Ladi Balogun, GMD of FCMB, Mr. Kola Balogun, the Chairman of MOMAS Engineering Engr. Nat and Dr. Elizabeth Ikem, Sunny Obazu-Ojeabgbase and Complete Communications Ltd under Mumuni Alao, late Dora Akunyili, late Dr. Samuel Osaigbovo. Ogbernudia, late Chief Akin George, late Chief Austin Odegbarni, late Mr. Steven Akiga, late Mr. Dele Odegbami, late Chief Timothy Odegbami.
Tunji Bolu’s ABDT Architectural partners, and Ibukun Odegbami Architectural Firm Members of The Black Table of Gbagada, The Borno State Governor Kashim Shettima, Amaju Pinnick, the President of the NFF Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, Governor of Lagos State, has sponsored one indigent student to the school Shade Adetiba and Tunde Fagbenle jointly sponsored the education of a female basketball student through the school Mr. Femi Thomas, the pioneer principal of the school,
Modupe Odegbami, Denis Owumi, Baale Dauda Olatoye and the entire community of Wasimi Orile, Tony Akiotu, Julius Berger, Mrs. Toyin Adejumo, Chike Egbuna, Sam Okpodu Philip Boarnah, Kunle Oladeinde, late Rufus. Orisayomi, Professor Tunde Makanju; Kunle Raji, Seyi Olofinjana, Chioma Ajunwa, Olumide Oyedeji, John Fashanu, Jay Jay Okocha, Etrim Esin, Victor Ikpeba; Tajudeen Disu; Kanu Nwankwo; Jimmy Solanke; Teju Kareem; Peter Badejo; Tunde Kelani, Godwin Dudu Orumen, and Ene Udo Obong.
Finally, I thank Papa Olusegun Obasanjo, Senator Ibikunle Amosun, my brother and Governor, Mr. Akinwumi Ambode, my brother and friend, Mr. Babatunde Raji, Hon. Wale Oshun and the entire membership and leadership of ARG.
Please help our children to hear the message that there is something great happening in Wasimi Orile to gifted young children that want to combine their education with sports.
They are all invited to come and share in the windfall of good developments.