17th October, 2011
Nigeriaâ€™s ex-international, Mobolaji Akiode, has expressed displeasure over what she terms â€œcontinuous slideâ€™ in performance of Nigerian womenâ€™s national team in major championships.
Akiode, founder and executive director of Hope4Girls, an NGO that organises developmental programmes to encourage young female basket ball players in the country, said there is need for those at the helm of affairs to look inward and proffer solutions for the game to regain its lost pride.
â€œThe level of performance of the womenâ€™s team has become a major concern. We have dropped from being at the zenith of the sport in Africa to become a mere contender at major championships,â€ she said.
The former member of Nigeriaâ€™s 2003 and 2005 Afrobasket winning team said that the game has to be given the needed attention for the country to return to the top of the sport in Africa.
â€œTo achieve significant growth and development in Nigeriaâ€™s basketball all hands must be on deck and the players need to show more commitment and patriotism when representing their fatherland. â€œDuring our days, it was a thing of joy representing the country and the gap between basketball and football was not as wide as it is now.
â€œIt is really sad today that there are less grassroots competitions to nurture players to stardom. Even the level of public awareness of womenâ€™s league in the country has dropped to an extent that you hardly see people watch the league matches,â€ she stated.
The Fordham University graduate, who also represented Nigeria at the 2004 Summer Olympics and 2006 Commonwealth Games , said lack of sponsors and will from those who oversee the game in the country, are part of the challenges facing womenâ€™s basketball in Nigeria.