27th September, 2010
Ifie Ozaka is the secretary of the Local Organising Committee, LOC , of the justÂ concluded 2009/2010 DSTV Premier League Final-Eight Playoffs, where Kano Pillars retainedÂ their titleÂ after defeating Royal HoppersÂ Â of Port Harcourt 77-78 points in the final.Â Ozaka, who is also the Team Manager of Royal Hoopers,Â spoke with WALE JOSEPH about theÂ success of the week-long tourney.
Congratulations on the successful hosting of the final-eight tourney, how do you feelÂ about the organisation of the tourney?
Iâ€™m happy and excited that we haveÂ proven to Nigerians and the world that we can do it.Â I will also give kudos to DSTV for the excellent broadcast of the matches. I thank GodÂ forÂ thisÂ Â achievement and for making things work according to plans.
Whatâ€™s your impression about the final match with particular reference to the champions,Â Kano Pillars, who defended their title in this tourney?
To be candid, Pillars proved that they are the best for now,Â as an experienced side.Â Â Thatâ€™s what they proved to us in the final. For us in Hoopers, we are glad that we lostÂ through a narrow margin, 77-78 points. It shows that we are getting there gradually. IÂ believe we are capable of taking the league by the storm next season.
How will you rate your team at the tourney?
We set a target at the beginning of the season to win the title as well as represent theÂ country at the continental championship. Iâ€™m happy that we achieved the objective ofÂ securing a continental ticket, though we lost the title by a narrow margin . Weâ€™ll goÂ back to prepare ourselves for the crucial assignment at hand, that is to be goodÂ representatives of Nigeria at the continent. To our fans, Hoopers will be a force toÂ reckon with next season at the local scene.
As the secretary of theÂ LOC, how has it been organising this tourney?
I got a lot of support from every member of the LOC, including the sponsors and moreÂ importantly the Rivers State government. They really supported us. Everybody worked hardÂ to ensure we delivered and I am sure we shall be a reference point in the nearest future.
The fans witnessed a perfect blend of music and sports which made them to ask for more,Â how did you put this together?
To be candid, it was not easy at all. But I thank God that we were successful. In theÂ beginning we were determined that to host the best final-eight playoffs in history,Â everybody got to work. I think to an extent we were able to deliver and set a standardÂ for the future organisation of leagueâ€™s playoffs. Let me use the medium to appeal toÂ sports administrators in the country, not only the basketball federation but all sportingÂ federations, to always package their events properly and make it attractive. Sports isÂ all about entertainment. Once the organisers do the proper things, fans will surely comeÂ around to watch their events.
What was the major challenge that the LOC faced during the competition?
The major challenge was security and weÂ madeÂ the tourney safe for everybody.Â Even whenÂ we lost in the final to Kano Pillars, there was no violence. So my advice to the nextÂ host is toÂ take the issue of security very serious in order to have a worthyÂ championship.
Your team lost to Pillars in less than 36 seconds to the end of the match, what wentÂ wrong?
I was not the coach, so I cannot say anything about the technical aspect of the team. ButÂ I think we were unlucky. Like what the clubâ€™s president pointed out at the end of theÂ match, everybody was a winner including the sponsors, the federation, the fans and mostÂ importantly, the players who used their God-given talents positively. Although our sloganÂ isÂ to host and win. So, with continental ticket in our kitty, we are indeed the winners.