We Learnt How to Maximise Virtual Platforms

Interview with the University of Nigeria
07/02/2020 15:06

The department of Human Kinetics and Health Education at the University of Nigeria, received the 2017/2018 ICSSPE Biennial Working Programme Grant to support the development of a physical activity programme for staff at Universities.


We, members of the ICSSPE Executive Office staff, had a conversation with Joshua E. Umeifekwem, Professor of Sport Psychology and Exercise Physiology in the department of Human Kinetics and Health Education. In addition to this, he is Chairman of the Sport Council at the University of Nigeria, Nsukka, Enugu State Nigeria. Joshua filled us in on the progress of the programme since it began in 2018 and how the pandemic has affected the University of Nigeria.


ICSSPE: Can you tell us briefly about the ongoing projects in the department of Human Kinetics and Health Education?


Joshua: Practically all ongoing projects with regard to physical activity and sports have been stalled as a result of Covid 19 lockdown. However, before this time we planned, in collaboration with the Nigeria Olympic Committee and Nigeria University Game Association, to host the first edition of the Olympic Value Education Programme for Nigerian University Athletes (NOTE: This programme is different to the Value Education Programme which is initiated by WADA, UNESCO,the IOC, the IPC, the IFPC and ICSSPE). The programme has a strategic objective of promoting Olympism among University Athletes with a view to raising future Olympians with high regards to friendship, respect and excellence in sports participation.


Also, we have sustained the project of understanding the motivation, barriers and preferences of staff and students regarding sport and physical activity with the aim of promoting sport and physical activity participation among staff and student in the University. 



ICSSPE: How have you dealt with the lockdown?


Joshua: The coronavirus pandemic has affected the university and the projects adversely. Our university has been on lockdown since late February this year and activities related to these projects have been put on hold for now.  For now, the Federal Government is still issuing directive on what to do. The lockdown has not been relaxed fully in Nigeria due to the rising new cases of coronavirus.



ICSSPE: What solutions and adaptations did you find?


Joshua: We rely heavily on the social media to engage the University staff and students who are at home on basic safety education on COVID-19 prevention, and guidance on how to benefit from physical activity at home. However, we have not measured the efficacy or the success of this approach.



ICSSPE: What has your organisation learnt from the pandemic?


Joshua: There is a renewed emphasis on personal and collective hygiene. We have learnt the maximization of virtual and other electronic platforms in conducting the business of leadership and keeping afloat in adverse circumstances such as in coronavirus pandemic.



ICSSPE:  Will you be keeping any changes after the pandemic is over?


Joshua: Absolutely. The changes will be incorporated into the workings of the entire system.



ICSSPE:  How do you see the future running of the university and your department?


Joshua: Future running of my organisations is bright however, a whole lot would need to be done in preparing for a future crisis.



ICSSPE: Following the ICSSPE grant, that the University of Nigeria received for the years 2017 and 2018. What have the results been?


Joshua: The results of the research were revealing. For example, they revealed that many staff were not engaging in sufficient physical activity routines and that institutions of higher learning rarely have institutionalized physical activity programmes to promote physical wellbeing of staff. Staff were enthusiastic about participation in organized physical activity only that they rarely have anchors, such as a physical activity instructors. Someone who will lead them through in organized physical activity. Time constraint was a major hindrance to participation in physical activity among staff. Post 2017/2018 ICSSPE Biennial Working Programme Grant, we have continued to sustained the physical activity programme since its implementation and that has created high level of awareness among staff regarding the need for participation in regular physical activity.



ICSSPE:  What are the future plans and growth for the programme?


Joshua: Our future plans are to consolidate on the gains achieved in our physical activity programme. We also plan to engage in advocacy for official inclusion of organized physical activity programmes for staff in institutions of higher learning in Nigeria. As time goes on, we would plan and initiate the full involvement of students in organized physical activity programmes through advocating for physical activity and sport as compulsory courses in the general university curricula.