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All the members of the country’s female basketball team, D’Tigress have vowed not to participate in the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup to be hosted by Australia unless their demands are met.
The team members in a four minutes and twelve seconds video posted on social media and obtained by African News Today cited poor treatment by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and the sports ministry as a reason for their action.
They went on to issue an ultimatum that unless their demands are met, they have united to kick against participating at the major tournament next year. Among their demands are the payment of monies owed to players, officials and vendors, adequate travel to competitions and a team manager for all team functions.
Their reaction comes after the Federal Ministry of Youth and Sports Development had in a statement issued by the Permanent Secretary, Ismaila Abubakar, on Wednesday denied allegations of embezzling Basketballers’ monies.
Abubakar said all donations to the team were intact in the Central Bank of Nigeria account of the NBBF.
But D’Tigress lamented the non-invitation to meet the President of the country, Muhammadu Buhari, after successfully defending the Afrobasket championship they won in 2017 twice in 2019 and 2021.
“Thank you to the Nigerian Embassy in Cameroon for celebrating us. We appreciate you more than you know. Other than that, we do not feel appreciated or celebrated for achieving this historic feat. In 2017, we won the Afrobasket championship, three days we were presented to President Muhammadu Buhari and his entire cabinet by the former minister, Hon Solomon Dalong. As customary, we were handshake. We have defended our championship and brought back the cup in 2019 and 2021 which is historical but still, no invitation has been extended to the team to visit Aso Rock or a presidential handshake. Why?” Victoria Macaulay, a member of the team said.
Also, another D’Tigress player, Promise Amukamara said, “The president of the NBBF, Mr Musa Kida said that the federation is not owing any players, officials or vendors. This is far from the truth. The last time we checked, our allowances, stipends, bonuses, training grants and donations made by banks for players, officials and volunteers have not been paid.”
Speaking further, Ify Ibekwe said, “We are owed seventy-three thousand, one hundred and eighteen dollars from the NBBF, twenty-four thousand dollars from the ministry for the Tokyo grants and a hundred thousand dollars from donations from three banks in Nigeria”
Other team players added their voices to the agitation. Among them was Ezinne Kalu who said, “Ever since our general and team manager resigned, we feel like we have been marginalised. The former president never shows up for camps or competitions to boost our morale and when we have significant concerns and issues that need to be addressed, we get vague answers as if our concerns are not important to him but when we win, they magically show up for photo and celebration to use for political gains. Mr Kida was not in Cameroon but somehow, he showed up in Abuja to take pictures and to hoist the trophy. Again, for political gain.”
Commenting on their Tokyo Olympics experience, Atonye Nyingifa said, “There are a lot of things that could have been handled differently to increase our chances of success, starting with our travel, there was a 36 hours flight; our team gear and uniforms, making sure they were of standard; practices; not being able to access medical staff at a certain point during the Olympic as well as gift exchange between teams.”
“Why hasn’t the team been to Nigeria since 2019? We are wondering the same thing. As D’Tigress players, we want to go back to Nigeria. We don’t understand why we haven’t been to Nigeria for the last two years for camp or any celebration. It’s customary that the team is to go home for major competitions so that we can have morale. It is also important that we inspire the next generation to follow their dreams. Every player that has been a D’Tigress since 2017 has their own thoughts and feelings about the dissolved NBBF board and coaching staff. Over the course of the time, it is evident that our voices have not been heard and our request for little things have been ignored, on top of not being celebrated or recognized as much as a three-times back-to-back-to-back African Cup of Nations champions deserve,” Sarah Ogoke queried.
Presenting their demands, Adaora Elonu said, “All monies owed to players, officials and vendors to be paid, adequate travel to competitions and a team manager for all team functions. If these demands are not met, with all due respect to the Presidency, the NBBF and the ministry, all D’Tigress players will not be reporting to the FIBA World Cup tournament in 2022. We are one united voice.”
Other members of the team that expressed solidarity with the decision are: Oderah Chidom, Amy Okonkwo, Nicole Enabosi, Pallas Kunaiyi-Akpannah, Evelyn Akhator, Elizabeth Williams, Ugo Nwaigwe, Cecilia Okoye, Uju Ugoka, Helen Ogunjimi and Dominique Wilson
They thanked their fans and outside personnel for their continued support and gratitude throughout all these years. The Basketballers promised to continue to stand up for what is right, not just for now but for future generations.
See video below
This post was written by Obiajulu Joel Nwolu.
The views expressed here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect our views and opinions.