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Most popular Sports & Games in Nigeria

The Nigerian population enjoys various games, from card games to sports; here are the most popular sports and games in the West African country.

football.

Rich in culture and diversity, Nigerian society encapsulates many things. The country has a lot to offer, from delicious food to unique clothing, and it is also home to some big sports and gaming fans among its cultural treasures. 

How Nigerians Have Fun

As mentioned above, Nigeria is an incredibly diverse country with a long history. People here choose how to have fun depending on their personality, hobbies, and talents. While some might focus on crafting a bullet-proof musical career to become one of the richest musicians in the country, others might sit down and enjoy the company of their peers. 

In any case, there are certain activities that everyone loves. From classic sports to competitive gaming, some activities are just plain fun. Below are a few of Nigeria’s favourite activities. 

1. Football

Without a doubt, Nigeria’s number one favourite pastime has to be football. Whether watching or playing, the sport is close to everyone’s heart. 

Football came over to Nigeria during the 1920s, and since then, it has taken the country by storm. By the 1940s, Nigeria had formed their national team, called the UK Tourists, and even competed internationally in 1949. Despite having no boots to play, the UK Tourists beat the English 5-2, resulting in a great win for both the team and spectators in the crowd. 

After this, the team changed its name, becoming the internationally recognised Super Eagles. In the 1960s, they united with other African football teams to participate in AFCON, also known as the Africa Cup of Nations. Nigerian football players have also participated in huge events, such as the Olympics, where they won the semi-finals in 1996.

2. Dambe

While Nigerians have taken football and made it their own, combat sports like Dambe have deeper roots. Originating from the Hausa people, one of the largest ethnic groups in Central and Western Africa, Dambe dates back to the 10th century. Resembling the Brazilian martial art of capoeira, players must defeat their opponents by fighting them until they fall to the ground. 

Historically, Dambe has been practised amongst butchers and fishers to celebrate harvests and festivals. Additionally, the sport's techniques were traditionally part of soldiers' training regimens. Like boxing, where players protect their hands by wrapping them with thick gloves, Dambe fighters wrap one hand in a special rope called Kara and leave the other free to use as a shield. 

As one might imagine, Dambe is not for the faint of heart. While players don’t resort to death as they did in the old days, it’s still a brutal sport compared to football. In any case, it is a beloved pastime throughout Nigeria and continues to be popular today.

Boxing gloves.

Online Games

Taking a turn from physical sports, Nigerians also enjoy online gaming, which has grown in popularity over the last few years. Among the various games, people are raving about slots. 

Besides the exciting rush of watching the wheels spin and listening to the jingly sounds, what players also enjoy about slots is the variation. For example, most slots have a certain RTP, meaning return-to-player rate.

The RTP, represented by a percentage, tells the player how much money they can expect to earn back from making their bets. RTPs inform the player of the house advantage, which gives them the power to strategise accordingly. 

As a result, players make more intelligent decisions because they keep the house edge in mind as they play. For example, players are more likely to gravitate towards games with higher RTPs because they know they’ll work better in their favour.

1. Thunee

Like traditional online casino games such as slots, Thunee is another fun card game where players bet. 

The game originates from India, but as more Indians migrated to South Africa, the game made its way throughout the African continent. The traditional way of playing requires twenty-four cards and four players. Each player receives five cards and bids on their hands, hoping to earn the highest value cards. 

Unlike Western card games, where the face cards are the most valuable, Thunee has a different value system. The ranking system goes as follows:

  • Jack 30 points
  • Nine 20 points
  • Ace 11 points
  • Ten 10 points
  • King 3 points
  • Queen 2 points

The Nigerian version is slightly different. Instead of twenty-four cards, players need thirty-two cards. The ranking system is also different because there is no point system. It purely goes off of ranks, like so: Jack, Nine, Ace, Ten, King, Queen, Eight and Seven.