University Games: Beyond Medals!

Thousands of athletes from some 23 higher institutions of learning in Cameroon will on April 29, 2023 begin competing in the 23rd edition of the University Games to be hosted by the University of Ngaoundere. Reports indicate that 11 State universities and 12 other institutions of higher learning will take part in this year’s University Games in which participating athletes will tussle for supremacy in several Olympic and Paralympic sports disciplines. Organisers say there are nine Olympic sports disciplines which include athletics, basketball, handball, judo, football, wrestling, lawn tennis, table tennis as well as volleyball. These add to the Paralympic competitions and fan clubs to give a total of 11 disciplines to animate the upcoming coveted University Games in Ngoaundere. Meanwhile, physically handicapped athletes will compete in paratable tennis, para-athletics and para-powerlifting. The novelty this year will be the participation of five new institutions notably; the three new State universities of Bertoua, Ebolowa and Garoua. There is equally the Protestant University of Central Africa as well as the Fisheries Institute in Limbe that will be taking part in the competition. Entertainment will definitely be at its peak throughout the period - April 29 to May 6, 2023 for the competing institutions and the entire public in Ngaoundere as well. Going by the game’s programme of activities, a cultural competition will equally be organised between the Fan Clubs around two events: The Carnival and the Triumphant Entry. At the end of the University Games, in addition to trophies that will be awarded to the best teams in the different disciplines, Civic and Fair-Play prizes will also be given to deserving delegations. These make the competition desirous as each participant or competing institution will be working tooth and nail to outshine the others and bag home the highest number of medals. As the countdown narrows to 48 hours this April 27, anxiety mounts among athletes and the competing institutions with each eyeing a place in the sun. Obviously so as the sports and cultural jamboree that gathers the best athletes and animators from across the country’s higher education family has not held since 2019 with the raging Covid-19 pandemic to blame for the over three-year blackout. The long wait could thus just be another motivating factor as the thirst for fame will be high in Ngoaundere. This is no doubt the goal of any competition. Writing one’s name or institution in the golden books of the prestigious All Varsity Games for posterity is the target and no stone is seemingly left unturned to realise the lofty dream. Understandably, this is a noble objective sought for by every athlete in any competition! However, in the case of the school games and the University Games at moment, winning will be good, but not at all costs at least. It might be called competition, but the stakes of the Games go beyond merely winning medals. University Games were conceived to serve as that rare and great moment of communion, manifestation and living together. In fact, a veritable avenue to show to the national and international community the determination of the youth to adhere to the ideals of peace and progress as prescribed by the Head of State. Visibly, participating institutions and their athletes are a perfect illustration of Cameroon in miniature. The six cultural zones, the linguistic backgrounds of the athletes and the specificities of their institutions are diversities which should be harnessed to fashion a better and inclusive youth. To say the least, apart from detecting promising talents in diverse sporting disciplines, the University Games is supposed to serve as a rare opportunity for celebrating the country’s multiculturalism through Fan Clubs which most often strive to represent the cultural identity of not only their regions but also those from the other cultural zones of the country. This alone gives a sense of belonging and oneness in a country that prides itself of over 250 ethnic groups. In effect, the gathering is meant to be that moment to instill the Olympic values of fair play, togetherness and fighting spirit in team sports. This is what the Head of State has been...



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