This year’s National Science and Maths Quiz (NSMQ) reaches a crescendo today as three schools — Presbyterian Boys’ Senior High School (PRESEC), Legon; St Peter’s SHS (PERSCO) and St Augustine’s College (AUGUSCO)—battle for the coveted trophy.
Mood-swings, bustles and electrifying moments will be the order of the day when thousands converge on the National Theatre auditorium in Accra to cheer their favourite schools to victory.
In what can best be described as a battle fit for the gods, competing interests will be brought to bear as old boys throng the venue in solidarity with their alma mater.
If the atmosphere that characterised last year’s grand finale at the same venue remains the yardstick, then one can only pray and hope that Primetime Limited, the organiser of the competition, is able to contain the mammoth crowd that is expected at the event.
Barring any other interests, people from the Greater Accra Region will rally round PRESEC to lift the trophy that has eluded the region since 2013.
The people of the Eastern Region will definitely root for one of their own — PERSCO — to retain the trophy they won last year.
AUGUSCO will enjoy the support of the people from the Central Region who are desperate to see the trophy again after Adisadel College (ADISCO) last won it in 2016.
Aside the regional interests, there will also be the religious angle that will see the Catholic community root for either of their two institutions – PERSCO or AUGUSCO – to clinch the trophy, while the Presbyterian Church will seek God’s favour for PRESEC.
After languishing in the wilderness for a decade, PRESEC is on a redemption mission as they seek to lift the NSMQ trophy for the first time in the last 10 years.
In terms of the numbers, PRESEC is enjoying a jolly ride as the only school to have lifted the trophy five times, including a back-to-back victory in 2008 and 2009.
They had earlier dominated the first 12 years of the competition by lifting the trophy three times in 1995, 2003 and 2006.
They hold five of the eight trophies Greater Accra Region schools have so far won in the competition, with Achimota School and St Thomas Aquinas SHS settling on two and one, respectively.
If they emerge as the last school standing in today’s contest, they will consolidate their dominance over other schools in the NSMQ by taking their tally to six trophies.
Additionally, the ‘Odadea’ boys still hold the bragging rights as the only school to have successfully defended their trophy, a feat PERSCO is seeking to equal today.
The Coordinator of the PRESEC NSMQ team, Mr Dzidefo Afram, is optimistic that this year’s grand finale will be the year of return for them.
“We have done everything humanly possible to win this trophy and we have also taken our spiritual matters seriously, so we are sure that the Lord will grant us victory.
“We have a strategy in place to set another record by winning the NSMQ for three consecutive years and we are beginning it this year,” he said.
He described PRESEC as the landlords who were back to reclaim the house they had hired to tenants.
PERSCO also comes into today’s grand finale as the defending champions, having won the 2018 edition by beating West Africa Senior High School (WASS) and Adisadel College (ADISCO).
Having won the contest three times, the boys from the Eastern Region cannot be regarded as minnows, especially when they are in a second successive final.
They first won the NSMQ trophy in 2000, followed up with another in 2005 before annexing last year’s edition.
PERSCO remains the glittering star of the Eastern Region, winning three of the region’s four NSMQ trophies while Pope John Senior High School (POJOSS) has the other title.
If they win today’s final, PERSCO will not only equal the four trophies won by Prempeh College from Kumasi but will also be on level with PRESEC in terms of back-to-back victories.
PERSCO’s numbers may fall shy of that of PRESEC but they have an impressive recent form as compared to the latter.
A trainer of their NSMQ team, Mr Stanley Kodji Solomon, a.k.a (“King Solomon”) told the Daily Graphic that they were not leaving anything to chance to retain the trophy.
“As defending champions, we are not afraid of any side in this contest because we want to win the trophy this year and 2020 as well,” he said.
He is also banking his hope on God to bless their efforts with victory.
If numbers are anything to go by, then AUGUSCO comes into this competition as the underdogs.
The trophy they won in 2007 is what they pride themselves with.
That trophy adds to the two and one won by Mfantsipim School and ADISCO, respectively, to give the Central Region a total of four victories in the NSMQ.
AUGUSCO will join the likes of Achimota School, Mfantsipim School and Opoku Ware Senior High School (OWASS) on two trophies each.
Their sterling performance in this year’s contest that saw them pick the only slot from the third semi-final from Keta Senior High School (KETASCO) and Ghana Secondary Technical School (GSTS), Takoradi means that they can be a hard nut to crack.
Their team coordinator, Mr Isaac Adomako, said they were in for the finals, “knowing that we have to beat any opponent that comes our way.”
“We have not won many trophies because we haven’t been doing some things right, but we have learnt our lessons coming into the finals.
“Hard work has been our secret weapon and we know that we will be the victors by God’s grace,” he said.
This year’s contest is too close to call, especially when all the finalists have proved beyond reasonable doubt that they deserve the trophy.
The pendulum can swing anywhere.
However, the school that will be most disciplined and tactical can carry the day.
One key observation I have made as an ardent follower of the NSMQ is that schools that take a commanding lead in the first round mostly win their contests.
Round Three, dubbed, “The Problem of the Day,” has always been the greatest challenge to most of the schools in the contest.
Any school that can address that challenge can also possibly win the contest.
The “true or false” questions that are asked in Round Four appear “cool chop” for the schools but they can end up robbing the schools of victory if care is not taken.
The numbers favour PRESEC; the recent form gives PERSCO the advantage; and the underdogs fever that has gripped the 2019 African Cup of Nations (AFCON) favours AUGUSCO.
So, who will wear the crown? Will it be PRESEC, PERSCO or AUGUSCO?
Time will tell.