Eton Fives thriving in Nigeria

Introduced nearly a century ago by a former pupil of Eton College, this peculiar form of handball pulls in the crowds in impoverished Nigeria. Whether it is the ancient heritage, the simplicity or the low-cost of a tennis ball, fives has stood the test of time in northern Nigeria since former Eton student J.S. Hogben introduced the game while teaching here in the 1920s. Hundreds of people attend competitive games in Nigeria and matches in the annual Sardauna Cup are followed by dinners, cultural dances and speeches. Nigerians forgo the expense of gloves and make do with a tennis ball but the court retains the obstacles and idiosyncrasies that make a simple game into a skilful sport.

Eton fives has been exported across the world but while it never caught on in New Zealand, Nepal or Argentina, Nigeria embraced its "minutes-to-learn, years-to-master" attraction.

"Nigeria is a great example of how bashing a ball against a wall can have mass appeal…Eton fives is just a very good version of what millions of kids do naturally at school," said John Reynolds, a former England national fives champion. For full article please click here.