2nd August, 2010
The second edition of Hope For Girls, a basketball event for Under 20 girlsÂ Â came to a befitting end yesterday evening at the Rowe Park, Yaba, Lagos.
The annual programme which is the brain child of an American-based former Nigerian international basketball player, Mobolaji Akiode, started last Wednesday with about 50 girls from 150 secondary schools across the country. AlsoÂ in attendance were girls from Benin Republic and Mali.
Hope For Girls was set up primarily by Miss Akiode to empower girls, who are from poor background through playing basketball.
Her goal was both simple and grand: to use sports, particularly basketball camps, to inspire and empower impoverished young women, first in Nigeria and then throughout the African continent. â€œWomen are second-class citizens,â€ says Akiode, â€œnot just in Nigeria, but in Africa in general.
Akiode began noticing the disparities during visits to Nigeria while she was a member of its national and Olympic teams. â€œI just was heartbroken that the things that helped me as a young girl, I didnâ€™t see that in place now (in Nigeria),â€ she says.
Rowe Park, which served as venue for the about one week camp was a beehive of activities all through the event with three sessions daily in the mornings and evenings for campers and secondary school kids. This included seminars and self defence class.
A motivational speaker, Mr. Saheed Kekere Ekun was on hand to talk to the girls. So also was an educationist, Mrs. Catherine Bickerseth of Strategic Educational Advisory group.
At the end of the event, participants expressed appreciation to Miss Akiode and wished other Nigerians will join hands with her in giving hope to a lot of girls who are on the streets.
Miss Akiode, who left her job as an accountant with ESPN to set up a foundation, has appealed to well meaning Nigerians, the corporate world and Non GovernmentOrganisations (NGO) as well as the government to come to her aid to keep her pet project alive.