It is called “Ayo” in Yoruba, “Ncho” in Igbo, “Nsa Akpukpok” in Ibibio, “Ogirise” in Bini to mention but a few. The game makes one keep away from stress, but high mental alertness is required with the intention of one of the players trying to win more pebbles to himself.
In Nigeria, it it given more attention by the elderly while the youth make out time for it when it looks as if there is nothing to be done. Gradually, Ayo is getting into oblivion in the land of its origin, adequate attention is not given towards its development and this is very bad for the nation.
Critically speaking, the Western World have given more attention to the development of the game. But the big question is this, if Ayo is introduced into the Olympics tomorrow, is Nigeria sure of winning a gold medal in it? In countries like China where Table-Tennis is often traced to they are major contenders as far as the game is concerned.
In Nigeria, this writer have taken time to travel to randomly selected local government areas in the South-West, South-East and South-South of Nigeria, no local government Chairman, Ward Councillor has built a special recreational places where Ayo can be exclusively played. However, there are reserved areas for Football, which is often seen as our National Sports.
This writer once commended the the decision of the former Chairman of the Yaba LCDA in Lagos, Nigeria Hon. Jide Jimoh for organizing an Ayo competition for people living within the Local Government, our presence was also made available to encourage the promotion of the game, but unfortunately, only the elderly men and women participated in the competition. Another question we must ask is this, is Ayo a game for elderly people in Nigeria, but for the Youth in the Western World? You may begin to answer it yourself.
Someday, Ayo may be introduced in the Olympics, is Nigeria sure of getting a gold in the game? If our understanding in Nigeria is that the game is for the elderly alone, what eventually happens if there is a clause that say you must not be more than thirty years of age to take part in it. Did I hear someone say over-age will be allowed and if not we find a way around it. Anyway, I have made my point clear to all who care to promote and develop the game of Ayo.