Hopes of the Nigerian Government unbanning the Nigerian Basketball teams from participating in international competitions are gradually diminishing, leaving young basketball players in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area disappointed and frustrated.
But, that has not stopped their resolve. Young players in Satellite Town meet up at First Bank Field to work out tirelessly daily.
Our reporter visited First Bank Court on Monday morning and watched as young basketball players in the area passionately took part in various drills.
What Young Players are saying?
Tony Gloria is a 20-year-old lady who moved from Bayelsa to Lagos. She currently plays as a shooting guard for First Bank Basketball Club.
She said she is yet to play a competitive game since she joined the team and her hopes of playing in a competitive league and the Nigerian Female National team is fading.
“Ever since I joined First Bank Club, I have not played a major national league we have because of Covid but now it looks more than the COVID.
“As an upcoming player, I have players I look up to. D’Tigress is the biggest in the country and we look up to them whenever they play in the championships. We love to watch them and cheer them.
“The ban does not make sense to me. What does politics have to do with basketball. The girls have qualified and they take that away.
“It disturbs me because I’m looking forward to playing in the National team someday and if I don’t get all the encouragement now. How will that dream come true?”
Gloria implored the Government to get ex-basketball players involved in Nigerian Basketball. She believes Nigerian basketball needs individuals with an interest in the sport at heart.
Nnabuife Samuel is a 22-year-old point guard who wants to play professional basketball. Samuel believes the ban and withdrawal of D’Tigress from the World Cup will kill dreams.
“It’s going to affect the minds of every basketball player irrespective of the age and background. In comparison to countries like the United States of America. The country does not take basketball seriously.
“The news is discouraging, a teenager or youth looking to go pro will most likely quit. I felt bad when I heard the news.”
In response to the forced withdrawal of the D’Tigress from the world cup, Samuel said, “It’s terrible, after all the hard work and discipline they put in, they can’t participate. It’s really bad.”
Odika Ifunaya is a 23-year-old graduate of Nnamdi Azikwe University (UNIZIK) who plays basketball for leisure but sympathizes with young basketball players who are looking to play professionally.
“This is Nigeria where we experience a lot of setbacks, not just in sports but in other sectors. Everything is not working and it’s sad because of people who have dreams to play professionally, everything here kills dreams and it’s so sad.
In response to how the government can reorganize Nigerian Basketball, Ifunaya said. “There is a whole lot of things to start with and basketball is the least of their problems but then it is important.”
“Nobody is paying attention to sports here, where I grew up there was no awareness. If they can take basketball seriously (especially for females), it will be great.”
Ezinne Kalu, an American-born Nigerian basketball player who plays for Landerneau Bretagne Basket and the Nigerian national team, expressed her thoughts in a Twitter space hosted via D’Tigress’s official Twitter handle.
“I’m heartbroken for my teammates, my, the country itself, the fans, the supporters. I mean you guys have seen our journey. How far we’ve come from last World Cup qualifiers to Afrobasket and won three times in a row going to the Olympics, beating France, beating Greece, beating Turkey. All these teams.
“And for this to happen, it’s just so detrimental to the players to Nigeria. Honestly, it’s embarrassing and I’m really upset. I’m heartbroken by this. I’m more sad than angry because I’ve seen how I’ve seen firsthand, how, how hard we have fought.
“I wasn’t able to be with the girls in February when they played in Serbia and beat France. I wasn’t there, but to see them and the way they fought was just amazing.
“Why would you want to take that away from the fans with the country? Why would you want to do that?
“It is sickening. It’s embarrassing and I’m just really upset.”
Promise Amukamara, who plays for Charnay Basket Bourgogne SUD and the Nigerian national team said, “I’m very saddened by the news. It’s very frustrating that we couldn’t.
“Like the Nigerian Government, and whoever is involved, couldn’t come to a common agreement and figure this thing out.
“But it’s very sad to see all our hard work fumble and come to this. It’s really sad.”
On May 12, 2022, President Muhammadu Buhari approved an immediate two-year ban of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) from international competitions.
The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, said the leadership tussle within the NBBF is the cause of the ban.