Dr. Oluwaseun Nariwoh is a very busy lady. She is an alumnus of the U.S. Department of State’s Global Sports Mentoring Program.
She currently works as a Senior Sports Officer at the Lagos State Sports Commission. Because of her tight schedule, we could not track her down for an interview. She was, however, kind enough to answer our questions through a questionnaire. Read on
Sports Administration is a male-dominated field, what made you choose this as a career?
While active in table tennis from age 10, after training at Rowe Park Sports Centre and Indoor Sports Hall of the National Stadium, I always studied the way athletes’ are being managed and I resolved that I was going to be a sports administrator in future while focusing on ensuring that athletes’ are well managed and prepared towards life after sport (retirement).
I did not really know how this would come to play because I also wanted to be a lawyer but somehow I was one point away from Law cut-off mark and had to purchase change of course form to study Human kinetics and Health Education at the University of Lagos.
ALSO READ: 50% Pay cut: Lawmakers tackle Pastor Adeboye
What are the challenges you have faced?
As a woman, it has not been easy combining work, family and continuously building my capacity in form of off the job training towards ensuring prompt and concise delivery of the key performance indicators as assigned by the Lagos State Sports Commission.
From your profile, you are passionate about mentoring young girls. For example, you have worked with Fortem Lens NGO and the National Youth Council of Nigeria, Lagos State Chapter on different programs. Why do you think mentoring is so important in sports?
Mentoring should be accessible and available to individuals including sports men and women at every point because as individuals, we are faced with numerous challenges and one needs a mentor that has passed through such to tutor on best strategies in combating these problems.
Oftentimes, I mentor young girls, using my life experiences in addressing present issues, taking the degree of effect into consideration.
I make bold to say that I have benefited a lot from Mentorship which is capable of providing direction to the teeming youth, increased learning, improve motivation and decrease feeling of isolation. More so, learning as a social concept is a result of observation, imitation, and modeling hence, the need for mentorship in sports for a more rewarding future for the athletes.
How did you get involved with the Global Sports Mentoring Programme?
The odyssey actually started in 2016 when one of the alumni of the program approached Lagos State Sports Commission through the Late Deji Tinubu of blessed memory. Chisom Mbonu needed assistance to implement her action plan focusing on inspiring young girls through sports and Table Tennis was one of the selected sport for the program which she needed someone who has effectively combined Sport and Education to be one of the mentors.
I was recommended to her and volunteered to support her without collecting any honorarium. I told her it is my passion to mentor young girls because I see myself in them. So when the opportunity came in 2019, she nominated me and some other ex-athletes for the program but I was fortunate to be selected after series of tests, write-ups and interviews from the US Embassy, Nigeria and Washington DC, United States of America.
Premised on this, I will encourage Nigerians to cultivate the habit of offering services without expecting any financial reward in return.
Your participation in the Global Sports Mentoring Program included travel to Washington DC, Los Angeles, and Indianapolis. Tell us about your experience in the United States of America?
In summary, the curriculum of the immersive five weeks 360-degree program was so intentional and overwhelming. The first week of the programme in Washington DC exposed delegates to different intellectual and practical exercises geared towards building the mind and body through a rigorous workout to not only develop their physical fitness but also consider the tenacity, perseverance and stamina needed to change their communities.
We were exposed to US Department of State Sports Diplomacy Division Programmes by Trina Bolton, Terrapin adventures for team building, Executive presence, Leadership, Good governance, Power of the mind through Yoga, Visited YMCA organization, Branding, and sponsorship, Strategic Planning, Policy Formulation, engaged in Aerial Yoga and Kickboxing, taking a stand on challenges facing women, power of story, power of mentorship, engaging both sides of the brain in a bid to develop an impactful action plan for implementation upon my return to Nigeria.
Delegates also visited the University of Maryland, had a panel of discussion with Prince George County Public Schools representatives discussing partnership development sustainability and Special Olympics development with in-depth discussion on adapted physical and health education in the community.
The team also assisted with Special Olympics track and field training of the student-athletes’. In addition, delegates worked with executive coaches and Kathleen Loehr to develop and refine their leadership and communication talents into a strong, strategic leadership presence.
Opening week of the 2019 Global Sports Mentoring Program ended in Washington DC with a visit to the U.S Department of State where I had the opportunity to seat in a roundtable with the caliber of Assistant Secretary of State Marie Royce and other notable women and men to deliberate on how to empower women to impact the world positively through sport.
Delegates spent the second week in Los, Angeles attending the ESPN W Summit. It was a life-changing experience as delegates were welcomed in a heroic way and were given VIP treatment.
Commitments of each of the delegates were presented to over 100 participants with motivations from Dr. Sarah Hillyer and her amazing team from University of Tennessee. I had the opportunity of sharing what is BROKEN, why it matters and how I want to bridge the existing gap upon my return to Nigeria.
In view of this, I am committed to empowering young people through an effective combination of sports and education with focus on young girls including those with disabilities while promoting inclusion, diversity and social justice.
It was an opportunity to network with high profile personalities in different panels attended and delegates visited Disney Land to unwind. I had awesome experience while interacting with individuals like Robin Roberts, Jill Abbott, Elie Donahue, Rothy’s Christy, Shari Van Claeve etc during the terrific session of Women in Leadership Panel and World Class Athlete Panel with Katrin Tanja, Becky Lynch and Sage Steele addressed issues surrounding sports talent identification and nurturing to stardom holistically.
The 3rd and 4th weeks were spent at my mentor site. I was mentored by Jean Merril Director of inclusion and Shay Wallach, Assistant Director of Inclusion at National Collegiate Athletic Association, Indianapolis.
It was a great time at the NCAA as I was warmly welcomed and given a platform to interact with the Senior Management Team of the organization to further assist in coming up with a realistic action plan.