Nigerians love the sport. Whether it is watching, taking part, or betting, it is a big part of the culture at home and amongst Nigerians living abroad. So what are the favorite sports in Nigeria, and how do Nigerians express their enjoyment of different sports?
Sport in Nigeria
Nigeria is home to a vibrant culture, encompassing many different activities. This includes sports, and a federal ministry is dedicated to furthering sports in the country. Amongst other things, the ministry aims to bolster sports policies, develop new programs, and create opportunities for athletes. The country has also spawned many successful athletes, including Chioma Ajunwa, Blessing Okagbare, Olusoji Fasuba, and Glory Alozie.
Sports betting has grown in popularity globally in recent years, with well-known online gambling names such as William Hill becoming popular both abroad and locally. Nigerians spend at least 730 billion Naira every year on sports betting with up to 5 billion Naira bet every day according to data from Marketing Edge. With people following and being involved in sport, it is only natural that some would also want to place wagers. This situation has been helped along by increased internet coverage and access to affordable smartphones.
Nigeria’s favorite sports
Nigerians love sport, both watching and getting involved. But which are the favorites?
Unsurprisingly, in the first place is football. There are many Nigerian footballers playing in Europe while the national team takes place in many big tournaments and is among the best in Africa. The country has spawned many famous players, such as Mudashiru Lawal, Rashidi Yekini, Nwankwo Kanu, and Joseph Yobo, to name just a few. Football was first introduced to the country by the British in the early 1900s, but by 1950 it was the national sport. In 1960, the country regained its independence and also joined FIFA. The women’s football team is also ranked highly on the content and has qualified for every FIFA Women’s World Cup.
Basketball is the second most popular sport in Nigeria, and its national men’s team is ranked best on the continent. They remain the only African team who has managed to beat the United States, as well as qualifying for the Summer Olympics in 2012. In addition, according to Vanguard, several Nigerian players have gone on to play for teams abroad, including the NBA. These include Julius Nwosu, Akin Akingbala, Peter Aluma, and Aloysius Anagonye. The sport was first introduced in the 50s, but by 1964, the national team had joined FIBA.
Dambe is a sport that is totally unique to Nigeria. A martial art practice by the Hausa people usually takes place over three rounds, often resulting in significant injury. The game aims to pummel the other boxer into submission at whatever cost. There are no formal weight classes in Dambe, but often competitors are matched in terms of their size to make things fairer. There is no limit to the rounds; rather, they end when activity comes to a finish, a hand, knee, or body touches the ground, or a boxer is knocked out. Bouts are often accompanied by music and chanting, and some engage in other forms of pre-fight ritual.
Running, table tennis, and regular boxing are also popular throughout the country. But you will even find fans of sports like tennis, rugby, and even golf as well!