The winner of the first Goal Nigeria and University of Sussex #WritingGamesNG Gold Medal prize has emerged. The winning entry was sent in by Oladele Oluwasogo Dare, a serving National Youth Service Corps personnel based in Anambra State.

His 735-word essay detailing Nigeria’s victory in the men’s football competition at the Olympic Games in Atlanta in 1996 had a mix of sport history, national politics and leadership.

Mr Oladele’s entry was chosen from a pack of 135 entries that poured in for the essay competition instituted to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Africa’s first Olympic football gold.

By this feat, Mr Oladele has won for himself an all-expenses paid trip to the Writivism 2016 Festival in Kampala, Uganda, which holds from August 22-28, 2016.

In the Silver Medal position is NYSC personnel, Ezike Ekene Cornelius, who is currently serving in Osun State. Mr Ezike’s entry celebrated the feat of the victorious Olympic team and how their story could help Nigeria achieve it boundless potential.

While the Bronze Medal was won by Olumodeji Gabriel Shola, an NYSC personnel based in Anambra State. His entry, “The Morning After”, explored sport’s ability to inspire and expand social networks as well as its ability to bring peace to Nigeria’s troubled regions.

Excited judges, Professors Richard Follet of the University of Sussex and Dipo Salami of the Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile Ife, hailed the quality of thinking expressed in many of the entries.

“We were particularly excited to see so many fantastic submissions from NYSC corps members and from university students in almost every part of Nigeria. The winning essay explored how the national football team's victory at the 1996 Olympic games helped transform Nigeria and how the lessons of national unity continue to influence the nation today, twenty years after Nwankwo Kanu scored the winner to bring the Gold Medal home to Nigeria,” said Prof Follet, a professor of History and the Director International Recruitment and Development, University of Sussex, Brighton, UK.

“From the submissions, I am of the view that this has not only been a great outing, it has also shown the need to encourage writing and enhancing writing talents through this project. Besides, all the participants recognise the challenges of ethnicity and religious divisions in our country and how sports and games can help to unite citizens,” said Prof Dipo Salami of the Department of English, Obafemi Awolowo University, Ile-Ife.

“We have been encouraged by the turnout of young voices who enjoy sport and its socio-political ramifications in a country with such a diverse population as Nigeria. We realise that sport doesn’t exist in isolation and this essay competition has shown how important history is for the growth of individual and national values in our country,” said Goal Nigeria chief editor Lolade Adewuyi.

The winners as well as the top 10 finalists will be feted at an awards ceremony that will hold in Lagos next month.

Goal Nigeria and the University of Sussex will publish the finalist entries in an e-book that will be downloadable online as a commemorative collection of essays in honour of the heroes of Atlanta ’96.

How The Top 10 Finished

Oladele Oluwasogo Dare – 13.75

Ezike Ekene Cornelius – 13.50

Alfred Olajide – 13.50

Olumodeji Gabriel Shola – 13.25

Mmerenu Harrison – 13.00

Okanga Okanga – 12.75

Orji Sunday Sylvester – 11.50

Adewale Abiodun Sodiq – 11.25

Temitope Bakinde – 11.25

Ikpebe Akpa Simon – 11.00

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