Nigerians enjoy a large number of indigenous games and sports. Among the Yoruba, traditional wrestling is popular. Names attached to the various forms of wrestling give some indication of their nature. For example, ija kadi suggests a fight that is a free-for-all and eke suggests wrestling with distinct techniques and rules.

The game known outside Nigeria as mancala is very popular. It is known as ayo among the Yoruba, dara among the Hausa, okwe among the Igbo and nsa isong among the Efik. It is a board game for two players, played with seeds or stones.

Boys often play with marbles; girls enjoy skipping and clapping games that involve rhymes and singing. Flying kites is a favourite pastime among children and adults alike. Checkers is also popular, especially among working people.

Soccer, boxing and athletics are important. Many Nigerian soccer players start their careers with Nigerian leagues and move on to play for higher-paying European teams. Nigerian youth and adult soccer teams have won many international championships. The Nigerian Super Eagles, the national soccer team, is the pride and joy of African soccer fans. The team has won a number of cups in Africa, and the gold medal in the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. Nigeria has produced world, Commonwealth and African boxing champions.

 Did you know?
Many Nigerians have entered the world of sports in North America. Hakeem Olajuwan, who plays basketball for Houston Rockets, is Nigerian. Dave Defiagbo, who was born in Nigeria, won the silver medal in boxing for Canada in the 1996 Olympics.

Sports such as swimming, lawn tennis, table tennis, handball, basketball, squash, cricket, judo, field hockey, weight-lifting and wrestling are supported by the government, corporate bodies and individuals. Wealthy Nigerians in the cities may belong to exclusive clubs, which have facilities for tennis, golf or swimming.