The second annual inter-house sports competition of Jesuit Memorial College, Port Harcourt took place on Saturday 16 November 2019 on the school’s athletics field. The event began at about 9:45 am and ended around 2:30 pm. It was chaired by Mr. Eugene Akhere, the chairman of the Lagos branch of the school’s Parents’ Association. The overall winner of the competition was Joseph House. Gonzaga House and Loyola House took second and third places, respectively.
The inter-house sports heats began on Saturday 2 November 2019 with encouraging words on sportsmanship from the Acting President and Chaplain of the school, Fr Udochukwu Ugorji, SJ. The sun was up, the field dry and the athletes ready for action. The day opened with the 100m qualifiers for all categories: junior, intermediate and senior. For each category, there were three races per gender. Six finalists were selected for each category.
Then the most grueling event of the competition, the 1500m race for all categories, took place. Shot put for the senior and intermediate categories followed immediately. Outstanding in this event was Tochukwu Princess who won gold in both the senior and intermediate categories. Next came a long jump for the junior and intermediate categories. The day was concluded with javelin throws for all categories. During this event, Chilam-Dimpka Unity set a record for the senior category with a throw of 31.64m and Tabansi Anthony for the intermediate category with a throw of 35.00m.
The 4 x 400m relay for all categories took place in the evening of Wednesday 6 November 2019. Shot put for the junior category also took place that evening. The events of Saturday 9 November kicked off with the 400m hurdles for all categories. Long jump as well as discus throws for the senior category then took place simultaneously. The 200m heats for all categories came next, producing six finalists per category. High jump for the senior and intermediate categories followed. During this event, Ibeabuchi Chukwudalu set a record with a jump of 1.75m. The day ended with the fill-in-the-basket event for the junior category.
Both the 800m race for all categories and the discus throws for junior girls took place on Wednesday 13 November. Friday 15 November commenced with the 100m hurdles for the junior category, followed by the 400m race for all categories. Worthy of mention is Okpaka Amarachi, who competed back to back in both the junior and intermediate categories. She won the gold medal in one and came very close to the bronze medal in the second. High jump for the junior category came next. Discus throws for both the junior and intermediate categories then followed. The day’s events ended with the 4 x 200m relay for all categories.
Saturday 16 November 2019 was the grand finale of the inter-house sports competition. Beautiful decorations and extra preparations had been made to ensure maximum comfort for parents, students and invited schools. The canopy for dignitaries had comfortable sofas, and water dispensers were available around the field to ensure that the problem of thirst did not arise. The clinic team, partnering with members of the Nigerian Red Cross, was stationed a few metres from the finish line of the race tracks to ensure ease of access to athletes. They did a wonderful job, ensuring that tired runners had a glucose refill and that the injured were well attended to. The protocol team, comprising staff and students, and security personnel were on the ground to regulate movement and ensure safety throughout the day. The cheerleaders delivered a captivating routine to entertain all present and cheer the houses on. Lest we forget, the weather was wonderful right until the end of the sporting events.
Special guests present included chairpersons of the various branches of the school’s Parents’ Associations, representatives of the federal and state ministries of education and of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC). Representatives of our host communities were also in attendance. The commentator, Mr. Joshua Jijingi, introduced the various dignitaries as they arrived at various points during the day. His colleague, Ms. Ekeh Theresa, gave commentaries in French.
The opening prayer was said by the Assistant Chaplain, Mr. Emmanuel Etim, SJ. It was followed by the National Anthem, which was led by the Senior Prefect, Miss Nuka-Gbarayeghe Kadilo. The school band, dressed in their immaculate white tracksuits, provided accompaniment. Pupils of Loyola Academy (a primary school within the premises of JMC) were also present and participated actively. The welcome address and opening remarks came next. They were given, respectively, by the Acting President and the chairman of the day. The opening ceremony commenced with the ritual of lighting the sports torch. After this, all twin siblings of the school led the Fair Play March-Past. Mr. Iwunna Gabriel, one of the sports masters, then took the Oath of Officials on behalf of his colleagues, promising to be unbiased in their judgment.
The next event was march-past by the various schoolhouses in the following order: Loyola House (Blue), Joseph House (Yellow), Theresa House (Red) and Gonzaga House (Green). The school mascot could be seen dancing around and marching with the various houses in succession. A drone captured the day’s activities along with the school’s photography team.
After the march-past by students, the main sporting events began with the 100m hurdles for the senior and intermediate categories. Then came the 100m and 200m final races for all categories. A short award ceremony then took place for the 4 x 400m relay races. The 4 x 100m event followed, along with another award ceremony. Pupils of Loyola Academy then had 4 x 100m relay races.
Then invitation relays for the junior and senior categories took place. Invited schools present included Air Force Secondary School, Bishop Okoye Spiritan Secondary School, Brookstone Secondary School, Charles Dale Memorial Secondary School, Model Girls Secondary School, Sacred Heart Minor Seminary and Wisdom Gate International School. To our surprise, JMC sprinters also participated in the invitation relay and came first. This is in spite of the fact that each of them had already run a few races that afternoon. JMC’s fourth-leg runner in the race for junior boys sustained a muscle spasm close to the finish line while he was on the lead. JMC did not participate in the race for senior girls. The award ceremony for the invitation relays followed. It is worthy of note that gold medals were also given out to the invited schools, a kind gesture by JMC sprinters as generous hosts.
JMC parents from various branches of the Parents’ Association then had their march-past. After that, the final results of the inter-house sports competition were announced. There was much celebration from Joseph House, which came first place, and Gonzaga House, which came second.
The chairman of the occasion gave his closing remarks, and the Principal of the school, Fr Ese Ehwerherume, SJ gave the vote of thanks. The closing prayer was led by the school’s Acting President and Chaplain. Then came the school song, which marked the end of the day’s activities and the inter-house sports competition as a whole.
The management, staff, and students of JMC are grateful to God for keeping all the athletes safe from serious injuries. We also thank all parents, friends, and well-wishers for the support received. May God may bless you all.
Okorie Fortress (SS 3C) and Francis Mmesomachukwu (SS 3B)