The maiden edition of the Fortem Inspire event took place today at the indoor sports hall of the Teslim Balogun Stadium and it was a success in every aspect.
Fortem Inspire is a project which aims to inspire and encourage the girl child to be what they want to be through sports. The event had in attendance over one hundred children from several schools across Lagos State and top mentors like Olumide Oyedeji (Ex-captain of D’Tigers and 2015 Afrobasket Champion), Jonathan Akpoborie (Ex-Nigerian footballer), Mrs Oluwaseun Nariwoh (Ex-Nigerian table tennis player), Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke (Supersport Nigeria presenter), Barr. Seyi Akinwunmi (NFF Vice-President and Lagos State FA Chairman), Mr Deji Tinubu (Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission and Special Adviser to Governor Ambode on Sports), Mrs Oluyomi Oluwasanmi (Head of Regional and International Sport, Lagos State Sports Commission) etc from different fields in Sports.
The girls aged between 8-17 were grouped in 5 sections which include: Football, Basketball, Sport presenting, Sports administration and Table tennis. Each section had at least one mentor and all 5 groups of children were moved from one group to the other from time to time to ensure that each kid had some knowledge of the different aspects of sports made available to them at the event.
Ex-Nigerian international, Jonathan Akpoborie who was one of the football mentors in attendance did mention that the initiative is an interesting one, because in Africa, women believe it’s a man’s world and that men must control everything going on in the world. “I see it differently,” he said “because I believe human beings are supposed to interact together and whatever anybody can do to help the other is welcome. I believe in the independence of women; so things like this should be done even more in Nigeria to give the awareness to women that they can play their own part and contribute as the men equally.”
Speaking to Supersport’s Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke, one of the organisers of the event on the inspiration behind it she said: “Being a woman in a male dominated world, presenting on one of the largest African sports network in the whole world, changed my life completely. Supersport gave me a chance to be what I wanted to be, to live my dream but one thing I noticed is; in the industry we didn’t have a lot of women and I think we need to start having more women role models to inspire our young girls to believe in themselves to aspire to be what they want to be.”
“We thought about it and we said you know what: we need to keep guiding our young girls into active sports. But the main aim wasn’t playing active sport. Playing active sport is important but we’re not just saying to them: you can be a footballer, a basketballer and make money, NO! We’re saying to them that first of all; education is number one. Secondly, active sports improves your standard of living. Thirdly, there are also a world of opportunities in the industry of sports,” Ms. Mbonu-Ezeoke said.
“You can become a sports doctor, an athlete, a sports lawyer, a presenter, a sports physiotherapist. Whatever you want to do, there is so much you can do in life and sports is one of those areas you can broaden your horizon and change your life like ours were changed through sports.”
Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke mentioned that the event which would be done quarterly every year hopes to directly impact the kids through one on one mentorship. “The key is to have one on one interaction with the kids so that our lessons to them can be more impactful. So they’re looking and speaking to you directly as opposed to having a stadium filled with kids where some are listening and others are not. If you noticed, we spread them into groups with different mentors and we had some of the best people around – Olumide Oyedeji, myself (Chosen Mbonu), Seyi Akinwunmi, Deji Tinubu etc were all here. So we want to introduce them to all these sports all around.
“Four times in a year, you will see Fortem Inspire, inspire projects which is to inspire the children to believe in themselves and to aspire to be future great leaders. So expect another one in December/January and then after that four times in a year. So between now and the end of 2018 we would have had five more inspire events.”
Finally, Ms. Mbonu-Ezeoke spoke on the long term vision of the project, which is to ensure that the girls become the best of whatever they choose to do.
“I was saying to some of the kids here today that in another 10yrs I want to be able to follow them in whatever they’ve chosen and then I’m chasing them for interviews and they say to me: remember you taught me 10yrs ago or 5 yrs ago? We want to see some of them develop into the best athletes, reporters etc they can ever be,” Chisom Mbonu-Ezeoke said.
“If I can get one child, just one child who will see me in another 20yrs and tell me: you changed my life, you’re the reason why I’m doing this. The fulfilment, the joy I’ll feel is not something I can even express now that it hasn’t happened. Imagine when it happens. Already, just the thought of it is giving me so much joy.”
“That’s what I want. Just to change one life, change one life, she continued. “The ripple effect will be amazing. The magnitude of it will be something else. That’s what I want in the next 30yrs. If I can do two, why not? If I can do 20, whose lives were changed through this program and they come up to me and say my life was changed by speaking to you one day, that makes me happy,” she added.