The determinants of female non-participation in sports in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State

The determinants of female non-participation in sports in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State
The determinants of female non-participation in sports in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State

ABSTRACT: The seminar focuses on the determinants of female non-participation in sports in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State. Some major determinants identified were: recognition, social, cultural, religious and physiological factors, which include musculature, childbirth, menstruation etc. However, despite the identified determinants, achievements have been made by Nigerian females having won so far the only individual gold medal track and field event in the Olympic games. The Nigerian female soccer has also dominated the African championships. The seminar concluded by recognizing that women stereo-typing still affects females sports participation in Nigeria to a great extent. Some suggestions were made viz: that coaches and other officials of females athletes should be made to have confidence in them; that female coaches be employed to handle female athletes and this will further arouse their interest in sports.


Female participation in sports has been a controversial issue all over the world and Nigeria is not an exception. Involvement in sports has taken a new turn in which those who engage in sports have various reasons for participation. In the olden days, the reasons for participation in sports was for the sole purpose of survival but in the world today, those who engage in sports have various intrinsic and extrinsic motivation such as financial, satisfaction, social, psychological, and fulfillment.

Participation in sports makes athletes and others fit for such activities that they might engage in. Females who participate in sports, recreation and physical activities are generally healthier, more confident and feel better than those who do not (New South Wales Infosheet 2006, Orunaboka & Nathan, 2007). The emergence of women in sports is largely a twentieth century phenomenon. Women were not allowed as spectators in the first Olympics in 776 B.C. in Ancient particular time. In Greece, when the Olympics was revived, women were not allowed to participate. In fact women made their first appearance in the Olympics in 1900 (Bucher, 2017).

Although there are no laws, which stated that women should not engage in sporting activities but there are societal expectations, which hinder them from doing so. These societal beliefs are strong to prevent women from venturing into areas believed to be for men only. Okonkwo (2011) stated that what has conditioned the women folks to be what they are deeply rooted in the prejudicial social patterns of different cultures. Women, through the ages, have always been viewed to be made of sugar and spices.

Consequently, keeping with this metaphor, a feminine picture of woman was conjoined up, which seems to militate against females doing anything too physical. The researchers have observed that in some states in Nigeria, women cannot expose certain parts of their body and thus, women in this case cannot engage in sports because they have to put on dresses that would make them free to participate such as bikini for swimming, pants for athletics, shorts and vests for games. Okonkwo, (2011) found that culture and tradition, age, gender, ordinal position, parents, as significant socio-cultural factors which influence female participation in sports. However, studies have not shown whether these could be found in institutions/ communities in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area. Thus, the need to find out socio-cultural factors affecting female participation in sports in institutions/communities in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area.



The determinants of females participation in sports in Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area are:

  • Recognition: In the Nigerian society generally, premium is placed on men’s involvement in sports. If a Nigerian male team in soccer wins a competition, the whole country celebrates. For example, in 1994 during one of the military regime under the late General Sani Abacha, a public holiday was declared when the country was involved in the finals of the competition in the soccer. The opposite happens when the female team wins, for instance, FIFA Women’s World Cup, with their best performance at the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup where they reached the quarterfinals. If the females win or loose everything goes as usual. This is a demoralizing factor as they are not regarded as males in success or in failure.
  • Social factor: Though, sport is a major medium of socialization like education and family. But Nigerian females are expected to fit into certain role stereotyping. According to Adeyanju (2007), psychosocial and cultural factors which exert pressure on women through the immediate family, community, religion, media, peer groups and other sources of socialization to reinforce expected behaviour and teaching of gender roles” sports by tradition according Adeyanju (2007), is defined as a male domain.
  • Gender inequality: There is continued gender disparities in institutions/community sports. Relatively, few girls participate in institutions/community sports and there is no deliberate effort to encourage them as there are little or female coaches, females’ sports administrators in the sports councils.
  • Religion: Nigeria as a country is dominated by two major religions Muslims and Christians. the Islamic religion has some restrictions on females especially because of the mode of dressing obtainable in Islam which do not allow women to expose themselves by wearing shorts, swimming trunks as athlete on the island, Christianity as a religion is not so favourable to female participation in sports for instance, Jonas (2005); proposed that sports greatly hinders the development of godly and biblical feminine character. Parents today expend extraordinary amounts of time and energy taking their daughter from one sport event to another, week after week, even to the point where it exhausts the family and family resources. Jonas (2005) iterate; “ why do we spend so much time preparing our daughters to play sports? Instead of spending all that time preparing our daughters bible directs, we train them to be like men so they can compete with men in traditional masculine roles”.

This scenario applies to most Christian families in this country with regards to involvement in competitive sport by females. In Ibesikpo Asutan Local Government Area, religion is hindrance to female participation in sports.

  • Cultural: The Nigerian cultures ascribe certain roles to men and some to women. The training of women in our traditional society place emphasis on home training to be good house wives and mothers. While those of men to lead an outdoor life. While women are training cook, wash plates, scrub rooms, do mostly house chores; men are meant to be involved in more rigorous outdoor activities. Ugwueze (2016) put it “the women social organization was designed for home makers, hopeful wives and mothers. They are excluded from rigorous and traditional activities like tree climbing (e.g. palm tree) or engaging in traditional activities and sports like wrestling, “meant for men”.

This cultural demands on women hinders a great majority of the female folk from taking competitive sports as very serious business despite the fact that there are enormous advantages derivable from involvement in the elite sports which will be treated in another section of the paper.

  • Psychological dimension: Having dealt with socio-cultural factors in the environment concerning female’s participation in competitive sports. It is also necessary to consider physiological factors that affect them as well.

One of those serious issues that affect female’s participation is that; the female athlete or prospecting is the issue of development of musculature by female athletes. This has often kept lot of females away from athletics develop nicely trimmed and graceful physique in them.

Klafs and Arnheim (2012); reported that the exercise indulged in by women athletes in competition intends to strengthen the pelvis and surrounding tissues, thereby bringing about an improved tonicity of muscles. Contrary, they held view that; athletics participation by females develops musculature. They further commend that musculature is as a result of a long arduous and concentrated training for many years which cannot be compared to the span of time usually covered in training and competition. Further to this fact, no muscular development can be said to reach the same level as men because of the lack of androgen in women.

  • Child birth: Child birth is another issue of misconception that constraints Nigerian females from active involvement in competitive sports. It is believed that female athletes usually have difficulty in child birth. Shepherd (2010) reported that labour either occurs normally or facilitated by greater strength and endurance of the athlete while Vipene (2017) has it that “female could be informed that exercises and sports promote easier deliveries and is supported by the facts that athletes have shorter and easy labour”.
  • Injury: This is another fact that inhibits women from active involvement in competitive sports. Klaf and Arnheim (2013) said; injuries to female genitalia occur less frequently and are less served than in the case of male that involve males. So this should not occur in Nigeria females from involvement in competitive sports.
  • Menstruation – the issue of menstruation and sports variously been seen as an impediment to females’ involvement as this should be treated as sacred and regarded as a period of disability; should be treated as a period of inactivity being found out that menstruation has little or no effect on involvement in sports, more to affect performance.
  • Child bearing – there is this misconception or wrong assumption among Nigerian females that female athletes and players cannot bear children (Ugwueze, 2016). However, Okafor (2014) posited that studies carried out at Alvan Ikoku College of Education majors have married themselves and have children inspite of the vigorous athletes activities and gymnastics these ladies went through during their programme.



Apart from the constraints discussed, Nigerian females have over the years made some strides in competition sports. Though, the number involved is insignificant based on the general population of women in the country who are qualified in the competition bracket. Ikulayo (2014) posited that there are evidences to support that a best females’ sprinter of a country will beat another nation’s best male sprinter’. For instance the highest sport glory in Nigerian track and field athlete Chioma Ajunwa; Gold medal in females long jump. According to Adeyanju (2007) despite problems encountered by Nigerian females’ like their counterpart, Nigerian women are now participating in a wide range of sporting activities making roads into the traditional domain in soccer and combat sports. He also listed a lot of Nigerian women who have made their work as world class athletes. Such as Chioma Ajunwa, Mary Onyali-Omagbem, and Faliat Oyunkoya, etc.

It is also recorded that Nigerian female soccer team have dominated African female so they have qualified to represent this continent at the finals of the female world cup since 1991 on continuous basis, Nigerian male team have not been consistent in its qualification bid. Females now participate in boxing which was mainly a males sport.



  1. There should be enlightenment campaign in Ibesikpo Asutan to inform females about the health and social values that can be gained from females’ sports participation.
  2. Coaches and other officials of female athletes should make them have confidence in them.
  3. Female coaches should be employed to handle female athletes. Thus, will further arouse their interest in sports.
  4. Adequate media coverage should be given to female athletes as it is enjoyed by their male counterparts to boost their morale.
  5. Female sports units should be created in various sports ministries at the federal, state and local government levels to cater mainly for the female athletes.
  6. Females should be involved in all facets of the administration machinery of sports in Ibesikpo Asutan and in the country.
  7. Female athletes should be encouraged to marry their male counterparts in order to eliminate some of the doubt that exists in the minds of people about females’ sports participations and maternity functions.



Generally, females’ sports in Ibesikpo Asutan and Nigeria at large has certainly progressed from mere amateurism to professionalism in some sport. Nigerian females should therefore not be left behind in this direction.

It is recognized that a factor, such as women stereotype still affect females sports participation to very great extent.

It is therefore concluded that factors ranging from musculature, child bearing, religious, culture among others mentioned in the write up are responsible for Ibesikpo Asutan females non-participation in competitive sports to the level of expectation. Most of these factors are empirically proved as impediments as such should be disregarded for more progress to be made in terms of females’ participation in competitive sport in Ibesikpo Asutan.

Originally posted on April 19, 2021 @ 10:29 am

About Peter Lawson 2732 Articles
Peter Hezekiah Lawson (Sir Pee). The CEO of A reputable researcher, Web Developer, ICT Instructor and a publisher of many research works in Education.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply