23rd March, 2012
Complains and grumbling leading to low morale of players have characterised the camp of the Nigerian basketball team, popularly called D’ Tigers, as they prepare for the Olympic playoff in Caracas, Venezuela from 2-8 July.
One of the players, Victor Okoro, told P.M.Sport that the players are sad with the way they are treated whenever they are called to camp to represent their fatherland.
Okoro complained of poor welfare package, unpaid allowances and their yet to be refunded air tickets.
He, however, said as professionals, they will continue to train ahead of the Olympic playoff tournament for Nigeria to get a slot from the three slots that are up for grabs amongst the 12 countries participating in the tourney.
He reiterated that it is the dream of every sportsperson to participate at the Olympics and that is the force propelling them to remain focused, despite the crisis affecting the team in camp.
“All is not well with the team. We are just in the camp because we know that if we qualify for the Olympics, it will boost our careers. It would be a personal achievement for me to participate at the Olympics.
“If we think about how we have not been paid our allowances and other problems, none of us will stay in camp, but we have resolved to remain focused no matter the crisis,” Okoro said.
He, however extolled the leadership qualities of President of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Tijani Umar, saying he had gone out of his ways several times to make sacrifices for the team, but unfortunately most of the problems persist.
” We need help from the government and private organisations, even individuals who love basketball. Our president, has really tried for the team and none of the players can blame him for these problems. We hope that this game and the players can be given adequate attention,” he said.
—Francis Achi, Abuja