About 200,000 secondary school children have received different life skills training in basketball, as part of effort to grow and influence the sport’s echo system in Nigeria.
Speaking at the ninth anniversary of the Power Forward Project Basketball clinic for secondary school students in Abuja, NBA Africa’s Vice President, Gbemisola Abubu, said the project’s focus is on helping youths in Abuja to acquire life skills through the game.
According to her, NBA just opened its third office in Lagos, which demonstrates the commitment and belief it has in Nigeria’s talent development perspective. She recalled that in the history of NBA, there have been 120 players of African heritage, most of which are Nigerians, saying this demonstrates the importance of Nigeria to the NBA.
Abudu said: “What we are doing in Nigeria is to influence the growth of basketball in the country and to also influence its echo system.“Power Forward is part of our junior NBA programme and the goal is to expand it to other parts of the country.”
She noted that talent development starts from very young age, adding that the project is trying to create a path for the young ones up to the professional stage.
“We are creating a properly defined pathway for young Nigerians, who are interested in playing basketball to play throughout their lives.
“Part of our youth development strategy is to have different programmes available for young children from elementary school up to the elite development stage,” she said.
Also speaking on the programme, Country Director, Pan Africare, Dr. Patrick Adah, affirmed that the project is being supported by Exxon Mobil and implemented in partnership with NBA Africa, adding that it started in 2014 with 10 schools, which has now increased to 40 schools, majorly from Abuja.
He revealed that over 200,000 students have benefited from the project, adding that it has also produced alumni, who are making impact in basketball worldwide and participating in various championship programmes.
Adah disclosed that every year, the programme brings NBA legends to participate in various championships to motivate and influence young athletes. The American NBA All Stars Cedric Ceballos while motivating the children, said sports generally improve children’s coordination and team work skills. He enjoined parents to motivate their children to participate in sports activities.