Nigeria hosted the inaugural Sahel Military Games with about 350 athletes from military forces participating in a weeklong competition in October 2021.
The Organisation of Military Sports in Africa (OSMA) organized the competition at the Federal Capital Territory in Abuja. Nigerian Brig. Gen. Maikano Abdullahi said that 12 countries participated in games that consisted of football, golf and marathons. Of the 12, eight were from the Sahel — Benin, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Libya, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
Eight countries participated in the golf competition, and all 12 competed in football and the marathon.
Nigeria’s Leadership newspaper reported that Abdullahi said the championship’s goal was to promote peace and unity among the military in Sahel countries and reinforce the collective resolve of the armed forces to end the region’s terrorist threat.
“Fighting is won by many means, and sports is one of them,” Abdullahi said. “We want to send a message to the world that the countries of the Sahel are together.”
Visitors were required to adhere to COVID-19 protocols.
Marathons concluded the games, with Tanzanian runners Michael Sangia and Jackline Sakilu winning the men’s and women’s competitions, respectively. The closing ceremony included an invitational relay race with athletes from the Nigeria Police Force challenging other organizations.