“One of my cardinal goals and objectives as president of NBBF is to take basketball to the grassroots, so that our youth and other stakeholders of the game, who have been neglected for so long, would have the opportunity of competing effectively right in their backyards.” These were the exact words of the factional president, Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) at the recent unveiling of the sponsorship of Total Men’s Division 1 & 2 Leagues in Lagos by Total E&P Nigeria Ltd on April 26l, 2018.
Aside football in Nigeria, basketball boasts of large number of followers with several of our players plying their art in Europe and America. Despite the attention given to the game by various governments, it had become a truism that the much sort after leadership in the NBBF was missing. And so for a man, who played basketball in all categories, and represented Nigeria in its National Basketball team, there seems to be more than ample knowledge of the true situation being faced by our basketball players in Nigeria. The players in Nigeria’s Basketball ball divisions suffer various facets of maladministration from lack of proper shoes to lack of proper jerseys, poor remuneration and most importantly, a lack of clear vision for the future of their game.
Before now, it would be recalled that basketball teams in Nigeria were used to gathering in one location for one week under the guise of playing a league. Teams in this Division, who were usually less than 12 from across the country, end up played between five and seven games for a whole yea. This did not give the required impetus for development of the game. It is against this background that the Ahmadu Musa Kida-led, NBBF board, decided to formulate a new league format for the lower divisions to maximise the likely benefits thereof. From this competition format, by the time a player moves from the lower divisions to the Premier League, he would have been properly groomed and ready for the rudiments of the higher echelon of the Nigerian Basketball League, and indeed professional arena.
However, one thing stands tall in this new index of Nigeria’s basketball sport. And that is the strong corporate social responsibility shown by TOTAL E&P in their support of the National Divisions 1 & 2 Leagues without which it would have been practically impossible to administer this new direction for Nigeria’s Basketball. This will uplift the Nigerian youths and spur a new phase in the annals of Nigeria’s Basketball because it is the first time the Federation is securing sponsorship for any of its lower leagues.
For every basketball enthusiast, there is no reason to doubt that Nigeria’s basketball has finally been given to the most prepared hands.