Ese Brume after winning the Long Jump gold at the 2015 African Junior Championships in Addis Ababa / Photo credit: Yemi Olus / MOC

Ese Brume was one of the revelations of the 2014 track and field season in Nigeria. Athletics Africa’s Tunde Eludini got up-close and personal with one of the coaches that helped Brume hit the limelight.

Apart from , Kayode Yahaya and the consortium of coaches at the University of Benin, in the southern part of Nigeria, are doing their best to churn out more champions for Nigeria in 2015.

Coach Yahaya told of their efforts and many more…

Below are excerpts from the exclusive chat with Athletics Africa:
AA: Can you please introduce yourself to us?
Coach KY: My name is Kayode Yahaya, athletics instructor working with the University of Benin, based in Benin.

AA: Can you give us a roll call some of the athletics in your stable?
Coach KY: We have Onyakuse Koma, a 100m winner in the Garden City Games and silver medalist in the Eko games. Then we have Tega Odele, gold medalist in the 200m Eko Games. We have Omeiza Akerele John, a quarter miler, who won almost all the classics this year (2014). He was in the World Juniors, the Commonwealth games and the African Youth Championship and of course we have Ese Brume who won the Commonwealth gold and African Youth Championship and we have Kome Okolosi was in the African Youth Championship in Botswana.

AA: Where you expecting the kind of display the world saw in Brume?
Coach KY: At the Commonwealth games I was really expecting over seven major jumpers to be at the games. I told Ese after she won the national championships in Calabar then that you just go to the games and do a PB.

She had a little challenge in the World Junior Championship at Oregon this year but she had to put herself together and she knew she had to do that because it was part of the training sessions as well because one has to always put oneself together no matter the condition one finds oneself, one should remember there is always a way out.

She did that and did not let the situation beat her down but kept her focus, she did not let it beat her down, I think that was what really interested me and got me excited because she did not allow the Oregon experience to beat her down. Even if she had not won the gold medal, the fact that she was able to get her acts together impressed me already.

I know she is going to do well but I never expected her to have such a breakout performance at the Commonwealth but it came that way and we are savouring the moment.

AA: Can you let us into the background of Ese Brume?
Coach KY: I could tell you from her background till where she is now but I cannot tell you about her future because a lot of factors could hamper or enhance her progress. Ese is from Delta state, Ughelli and she was involved in track and field in the primary and secondary schools.

She came to be admitted in the University of Benin where she was brought to Mr Okosun, then the assistant head coach Athletes at the university now head coach. Her father brought her in and she started training with us and after a lot of rigorous exercises and sessions she turned out like this. For the future, only God knows.

AA: What are your expectations from your athletes in the upcoming new season?
Coach KY: The new athletics season everybody wants to step up. A lot of people want to catch up and those who are already up want to keep going up. We have to take everything one step at a time and hope for the best. But we at the University have our basic preparations which we call general conditioning going on right now.

It is quite unfortunate that the National Sports Festival that was supposed to hold has obstructed a lot of things and we are trying to fix ourselves into the general conditioning so that we can have a better platform since the season is short, we are in a cloud of uncertainty but we doing our best to keep the athletes fit. Hopefully before the season starts, the athletes should be in top form.

AA: With little or no case of drug use last season, can we say we are winning the war on drug cheats?
Coach KY:Let me digress here and I really want to draw a line here, a lot of things are happening because there isn't proper education for these things.

Athletes need basic clinical education. Some of them don't even know that ingredients in the contents they take in and they are not so familiar with their managers who may just prescribe anything for them. Most times you don't expect your manager to prescribe something that would harm you but sadly it happens like that a lot of times. A manager is a like a father figure to most of these athletes and many of them dare not disobey his instructions.

Even the managers need basic clinical education. We do not know all supplements so we need to be educated about them also. You go to the WADA website, you ll see the ones that are legal and the non legal ones but how many of the managers take time out to do that.

We need to have a workshop where athletes and coaches can be given that education because everyone is trying to get an edge in their performance and what people to get there can be amazing and terrible, you don't just understand why but when you get closer to them, you will discover that they are just ignorant or properly educated because they would think it's something natural.

These laws and guidelines they are from WADA and some other organisations but these people are well informed before they came out with those instructions and guidelines.

In this part of the world however, people are not as informed. So I think a proper clinical education should be given to both coaches and athletes about what goes into their mouths and they should understand that they have the right to research and asked about what is being given to them so they know the repercussion of their actions.

University of Benin athletics coach Kayode Yahaya tutored Ese Brume to Commonwealth Games & African Championships long jump gold medals in 2014 / Photo credit: Kayode Yahaya/Tunde Eludini

AA: How do see efforts of Lagos state at producing young talents?
Coach KY:I love Lagos state for what they are doing right now. Every part of the world they have what they call summer camp for young people and this is where they get majority of their qualified personnel. Like a nephew of mine who lives in Canada is already enlisted in an aircraft and he is only 16 years old because works with the cadet and one of the training he gets there is to airlift and he is doing it right now.

Sports is a very important and vital part especially in a country like Nigeria. If these kids are given summer camp like they do in Lagos state, you will discover that the labour market would be lightened up.

Imagine if 50 percent of the people currently job searching have the opportunity to use their talent to make money, imagine what would be generated for the country and imagine how the labour market would be; every one would be occupied doing something. But here even parents discourage children from using their talents.

Most mothers are wary of releasing their 16 year old daughter to go for a two week summer camp alone especially when the government is not involved. That is why I said I love Lagos state because the government is involved and the parents can have rest of mind when their children are away from them.

Involvement of the government or the sports body rather than a faceless nobody encourages the parents to be more confident to release their children. And such things are organised, it is important to also involve the coaches, they can use that opportunity to gain knowledge and improve themselves.

There is no way the athletes can grow without the coach. Most times athletes outgrow their local coaches and they would now need foreign coaches and this should not be so, they should both be able to grow together.

Funding is not everything, sometimes recognition helps because it gives room for people to grow because it is one form of motivation. It motivates people to do more because when you are recognised you don't want to fall from that standard you are known for.

So I honestly think Lagos is doing great and I will like to urge other states to emulate them. Some of the kids in that camp may never have believed in their talent but with recognition they are more confident in themselves. Education and sports are like twins because it is going to make you mentally fit, you will be intelligent because you will be combining a lot of things together.

Not only will you be exercising you body but also your brain. Once the brain is being exercised, it would be easier for it to undertake complex tasks. People should get the notion that education and sports don't mix out of their heads. Parents should allow their sports inclined children to take it up whilst still encouraging them to take up education. They have the capacity to do both or else they may channel their energy into something else

AA: Can we know the other coaches you are working together at Uniben?
Coach KY: Coach Isima Osuagwu is my senior, I am next to him. We have Dr. Obuh, Head of Jumps; Mr Okosun, Head Coach Athletics - University Of Benin; and Mrs Egbase the Director of Sports for the University and she has been supportive I must confess.