I probably would have been a nurse or hygiene inspector or the like in fulfilment of my mother's desire. While young, she had dreamt of being a nurse and when that did not happen, she wanted her first child who is also a female to go that way. Nevertheless, my mum believes that I can become whom I set my mind to be. And, she is right about that.
I probably would also not have become a sports presenter on radio but for one Dr Babatunde Tiamiyu, who was going to assume duties as head of programmes in another radio station and wanted to introduce something different - a female sports presenter in a Nigerian language, Yoruba.
I probably would have been answering 'Oscar Bali' on the said programme because that was my nickname in school based on my Muslim name, Balikis, but Dr Tiamiyu and his colleague, Mr Laolu Fawole, insisted that such a name would not work and gave me "Olori Sports".
My name is Aderonke Adesola and I am an indigene of Ibadan. I was born and bred here.
When you tell people that you are from Ibadan, and they ask you which compound you are from and you cannot say it, then they say you are not a proper Ibadan person. I am from Molete Bode Moremi, Ile Olobo. According to my father, Nurudeen Adesola, there was a monkey or monkeys rared in the quarters, hence the "Ile Olobo". We used to live in my grandfather's house in that compound before my dad built his house at Arapaja Odo Ona Kekere, along Old Lagos Road.
I attended St Anne's Nursery and Primary School, Molete in Ibadan from kindergarten. It is owned by the St Anne's Church, Ibadan. It is the mindset of most parents that their children should go to public schools towards the end of their primary schooling. So, when I was in Primary Five, I was sent to St Johns Catholic School IV Eleta, Ibadan, where I did my common entrance examination to a secondary school.
I attended St Anne's Junior School III for my junior secondary school. Students in Junior Schools I and III used belts while those in School II did not. That is how they were differentiated. We wore the same uniform, beret and sandal. For my senior secondary school, I attended Oladipo Alayande School of Science at Oke Bola, Ibadan. The choice of that school, I believe, was so that I could later attend a school of nursing or hygiene education to fulfil the dream of my mum, Maryam Adesola. I did not make all my papers.
I switched to arts on my own and using the books I borrowed from my friends in my private studies, I succeeded in passing the subjects I chose for the West African School Certificate examination: English Language, Literature-in-English, mathematics, government, economics, agricultural science and Christian Religious Studies.
During the period I also worked as a teacher in a private school in my area. But I am an impatient person and was not able to handle those children. I did not like the situation where I had to smack any of the pupils for not following my instructions. I quit after one term.
When my results came out, my mum, still believing that her daughter would be going the medical or health line, was surprised that there was no biology or chemistry in the mix.
She was shocked the more when in 2017/2018 school year, I gained admission to The Polytechnic Ibadan to read mass communication at the ordinary national diploma (OND) level.
I had finished secondary school in 2015, by the way.
Besides my one-term teaching stint, I did some other jobs including one in Lagos, before gaining the admission. While in Lagos, I stayed with my mum's younger brother and was also trying to sort out my joint matriculation examination.
I also had a training opportunity at Splash FM 105.5.
I had loved listening to radio from when I was much younger. Indeed, before I passed out of secondary school my mum had bought me a radio set.
I listened to many of the programmes from politics to music to sports.
Speaking of sports, my mum used to tell me that she was an athlete in Okeodo High School on Osolake Street, Ebute Metta, Lagos.
I too was active in sports while in primary school.
In fact, I once missed the final of a heat in a 100-metre race in which I represented my house - Red House - in primary school, and came first, because I had to follow my parents to a wedding in Ilorin, Kwara State. My mum is from that area; Idi Ape, precisely. It was painful, and disappointing as my house lost.
But I love football and love arguing about the game. I have three younger brothers who are keen football watchers. I watched my first European football final in 2008 between Chelsea and Manchester United with them. I believe I was rooting for Chelsea which my brothers also supported. Chelsea lost. My only sister is little.
On radio, I loved listening to Babatunde Saheed, popularly known as Mr Sport. I can say that he was the one who made me to love listening to sports on radio. He was then at Oluyole FM 98.5.
I listened to Jawonsi, a sports programme in Yoruba, presented by Kola Oladapo, also known as Mr Nice, on Splash FM.
But it was on an entirely different English sports programme that a question was asked about which football club was called Yellow Submarine. Then I did not know that it was the Spanish football team, Villarreal, that was so called.
In a bid to find out, I called one of Mr Nice's analysts, named Sunday Agunbiade. From my voice, he knew that I was a female and sensed that I was young. He was surprised that such a person was keen on finding an answer to a football question. He asked if I needed the answer for my school work. He gave me the answer to my question then and said he would like to meet me. But I was not able to meet him before I went to Lagos.
I eventually did, about seven or eight months later as I became a trainee under Mr Nice who gave me the chance to analyse football on Jawonsi. On my twentieth birthday, he allowed me to present the programme. It was not a birthday gift; he just felt that I could do it.
Jawonsi was stopped at some point and Mr Nice started reading news and doing political programmes. I was given another tutor, Tolani Aladelaja Chinoyerem. She taught me how to read news in Yoruba.
I returned to Splash FM for my four-month SIWES (Students Industrial Work Experience Scheme) after the first year of my ND programme. I then joined Boluwaji Ogunmola on SportsPaparazi, a pidgin sports show on Splash's sister station, Lagelu FM 96.7. I did, analysis and other stuff. Once, during his absence, I presented the programme. I also worked in production and editing. No, I was not paid.
I returned to school.
It was four months before I completed my ND in 2019, that Dr Tiamiyu, who was then about to leave Radio Nigeria for Pensioners 106.7FM, called me on phone. He was planning to have a sports show in Yoruba as one of the programmes he would introduce on his new station to make a difference.
One of the ways he believed the station would be unique was to have a female presenter for the programme. He was certain that there was one person out there who would fit the bill. So, he put out the word on a couple of WhatsApp groups. Three or four persons said he should get in touch with me. Yes. They were not sure I had done it before but they believed I would be able to do it. I went to meet him at his office at Radio Nigeria in Dugbe. He asked me a couple of questions about the 2019 African Cup of Nations in which a Nigerian (Odion Ighalo) won the golden boot. I gave a lowdown on the tournament and he expressed satisfaction that if I provided the answers without any preparation, I was the person he was looking for.
A sports show in Yoruba with the name Gbegede Gbina was created on the station (Pensioners FM) and I became the presenter.
When Dr Tiamiyu and Mr Fawole insisted that I had to have a nickname and I said it would be "Oscar Bali" they were like 'see this bush girl, it won't work.' They said that whereas one male sports reporter had claimed to be the king of sports - "Obasports" - and I was the only female sports presenter in Yoruba then, I should be the queen of sports. So, "Olori Sports" was it, and it has stuck.
I have adopted the name.
I left Pensioners FM to be at Splash FM from Friday, 1 July, because being young I believe I could take up new challenges. The folk at Pensioners FM offered me best wishes. No hard feelings.
You may want to know that I had at least four different offers including from outside Ibadan but I chose Splash FM because it is one of the biggest stations around and one of the most listened-to stations in Western Nigeria, which would provide me a wider platform to explore. Not only that, this is where it all started for me.
I was here as a trainee and now I am back as a staff.
Please listen to my programme on Mondays 10:30-11:00am and Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays 6:30-7:00pm.
TO KEEP US GOING
This initiative which started as a demonstration project for an intern of The Journalism Clinic has, before our very eyes, taken a life of its own, demanding a lot more resources than envisaged.
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Taiwo Obe, FNGE
Commonwealth Professional Fellow
Founder/Director, The Journalism Clinic
+234 818 693 5900