Mending damaged Nigerian expertise – The Mail & Guardian


On the age of 21, Tola Ogunlewe made a visit from Lagos to London, hoping to catch the attention of soccer scouts and set himself on the trail to a profitable soccer profession. As a substitute, all of it however ended.

“The primary — and solely — match I performed, I didn’t final 5 minutes earlier than the knee gave manner. It was off my first sprint,” Ogunlewe mentioned.

A couple of months earlier than graduating from the College of Lagos, Ogunlewe was on the receiving finish of a sort out throughout a kickabout forward of a college match.

“It was like one thing I’d by no means felt earlier than,” he recollected.

Ogunlewe had deliberate his route into skilled soccer after incomes a legislation diploma “for my dad and mom” in 2010. He had trials arrange in Europe and set out in pursuit of his personal desires.

However, ill-advised by medical practitioners who had no concept in regards to the severity of the damage, he was urged to “therapeutic massage it and so they gave me Aboniki or Robb [hot balms]”, which helped solely to cut back the swelling. With the price of an MRI scan prohibitively costly in Nigeria, Ogunlewe resorted to having an X-ray taken. Regardless of the recent balms, the discomfort in his knee continued when he arrived in London and ready himself for trials.

“I wanted to get an MRI in England to make certain of the extent of the damage, and received to know that my ACL [anterior cruciate ligament] was torn. I had a partial medial collateral ligament tear and a partial meniscus tear. I had bone bruising, with the bones from my leg and thigh up in opposition to one another and there was particles within the knee, which wanted to be cleaned.”

Anterior cruciate ligament accidents, even on the earliest prognosis, are an athlete’s nightmare. After surgical procedure, it takes between six to 9 months to heal, and put paid to many a profession.

For Ogunlewe, the dream was over earlier than it started. He had been taking part in with the damage for months, additional exacerbating it.

Jimi Osinaike, a sports activities medication doctor on the Summit Orthopaedic Hospital in Lagos, is without doubt one of the few evangelists of sports activities medication in Nigeria. His expertise of working with younger footballers, together with the Nigeria under-15 nationwide workforce, has made clear to him how rampant ignorance is destroying the expertise pool within the nation.

“This has affected the well being of those younger athletes as a result of, typically occasions after they get injured, the coaches that ought to direct them to the appropriate locations are additionally not conscious, so they only ship them to a basic hospital.”

Osinaike believes in a holistic method to the well being of a footballer.

“The sports activities medication workforce is definitely broad. We’ve got numerous professionals working in that subject. We’ve got a sports activities psychologist, nutritionist, physiotherapist and scientist,” he mentioned.

Ogunlewe returned to Nigeria turned his attentions to his legislation research. Right now, he’s an athletics efficiency analyst and sports activities lawyer.

It’s common for aspiring gamers from Nigeria and different African nations to be unaware of holistic well being regimes. Adeyemi Adegboyega, a Nigerian soccer agent and freelance scout based mostly in Bulgaria, has seen the results of poor vitamin, and lack of consideration to psychological and bodily well being that trigger many a younger hopeful to fail.

Nigeria is taken into account one of many greatest exporters of footballing expertise in Africa, and Lagos, its industrial hub, is house to lots of the golf equipment and academies. Formally, greater than 300 are affiliated to the Lagos State Soccer Affiliation, with a whole bunch extra unregistered within the state.

Many of those are purely geared in the direction of being profitable by getting footballers to play in Europe.

“Each severe membership [in Europe], even the beginner golf equipment, take their sport science severely. Even the restoration of gamers after video games is taken very severely,” Adegboyega mentioned.

“However we’re a few years behind in Nigeria. What number of groups have actual sport medical doctors?”

Bone-setters disrupted

In 2018, Ayoade Ayinde*, 17, tore his knee ligaments throughout a kickabout in his hometown of Ijebu, in southwest Nigeria. He was rushed to a standard bone-setter.

Bone-setting is commonplace in Nigeria and the apply is recognised by the World Well being Organisation. Practitioners use their data of herbs, lotions and balms, and sometimes what is taken into account to be supernatural intervention.

For accidents much like Ayinde’s, it is not uncommon apply to have a mix of natural lotions, bandages and picket rulers strapped to the affected space to help the fractured bone whereas it heals.

After seeing no progress, Ayinde, appearing on the recommendation of his priest, sought a traditional medical practitioner and was referred to Onimisi Salami, the pinnacle of surgical procedure on the Summit Orthopaedic Hospital .

“They don’t make prognosis,” Salami mentioned of the normal bone-setters. “Most occasions, they deal with all accidents the identical manner. So, an athlete going to a standard bone-setter is at a loss already. No prognosis, no X-ray is finished and typically, the damage is even made worse.”

Pushing sports activities medication

Salami works alongside Osinaike on the sports activities science centre in Lagos and provides reductions to younger footballers who’re unable to foot medical payments.

Ayoade, after arthroscopy surgical procedure — paid for with funds raised by his church, coupled with Salami’s low cost — is on his technique to restoration after preliminary fears that he must surrender the sport.

To boost consciousness of sports activities medication in Nigeria and protect the expertise pool, Osinaike and Salami are main the cost. Utilizing a mix of his presence on social media platforms and his relationship with the native media, Osinaike is educating a bigger viewers.

“The coaches have an enormous affect on the gamers,” Salami mentioned. “No matter they inform them, they [the players] consider.

“We’re organising some enlightenment programmes for coaches and gamers, and even membership homeowners, telling them that after they get injured, the very first thing they need to do is get a correct prognosis from a sports activities physician.”

The Mees Palace Soccer Academy within the metropolis of Jos began in 2017 and is without doubt one of the golf equipment adopting the brand new method directed by the likes of Osinaike and Salami. A partnership with Dutch package firm Masita has meant they will put money into the medical well being of their groups by means of the game science centre.

In addition to attending to younger skills, the game science centre attends to established gamers. Considered one of their success tales is Terry Envoh, who feared his profession was over after a horrible hip damage in 2014.

After profitable surgical procedure in 2017 the striker was in a position to return to soccer and is flourishing.

To assist construct the sports activities science sector in Nigeria, Salami says confidence has to constructed within the apply.

“We’re getting numerous good outcomes … we have already got established skilled gamers coming from outdoors the nation to get care right here in Nigeria,” Salami mentioned. “It’s a sluggish course of, however we’re on observe.”

* A pseudonym