By JACOB ONJEWU DICKSON
Power Forward, a youth development initiative of international NGO PanAfricare, ExxonMobil and the National Basketball Association aimed at teaching health literacy and life skills through basketball to positively impact secondary school pupils launch in Abuja.
The initiative in its 9th season included community outreach, motivational sessions as well as health talk by medical experts and basketball clinic with former NBA player and D’Tigers captain, Olumide Oyedeji.
Students were drawn from five secondary schools in Abuja namely Government Secondary School Karu; Government Secondary School, Zone 3; Raberto Schools Wuse II (Private); Community Secondary School Asokoro (Private); and Government Secondary School Tudun Wada Wuse Zone 4.
The Country Director, PanAfricare, Patrick Adah, in his remarks, hailed the NBA and their partners for using the initiative to empower and teach young Nigerians valuable life skills.
“Basketball has been identified as a veritable tool for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goal (SDGs) and we are using the game to attract the youth to give them life skill and also to create awareness on public health issues,” he said.
Speaking also, NBA Africa’s Director of Operations, Franck Traore, expressed delight with the achievements of the programme in Nigeria, noting that the country has produced pool of basketball talents who have attained global acclaim.
According to him, “Nigeria is the backbone of basketball on the continent. Most of the black players in the NBA are either from Nigeria or their parents are from Nigeria.
“So, we’ll continue to work with the team in Nigeria to develop and create opportunities for the youths. For us, we don’t leave any kid behind.”
In the same vein, NBA Ambassador and former D’Tigers captain, Olumide Oyedeji, noted that the future of basketball in Nigeria is bright.
“The programme keeps getting better and the product keeps expanding and touching more lives. The prospects of basketball in Nigeria has gone through-the-roof’. So, we’ll keep doing our best.
“I believe that the government do care for the youth and want the progress of the youth and the nation because the youth of today are the leaders of tomorrow and anyone that tries to look down on the youths is courting future disaster.
Earlier, Secretary of the FCT Secondary Education Board, Mrs Nanre Emeje, said although Nigeria may not have been vociferous in the game of basketball, many youths have garnered reasonable wealth from the sport.
“From this game, individual families have been impacted upon. The reality then is that clinics of this nature are really what the nation needs to ‘catch them young’.
“There is no doubt that in this programme, new future heroes of Basketball shall be discovered. To ‘catch them young’ in itself should be the focus of sessions of this type.
“I, therefore, urge the participating students to see this as an opportunity to improve their skills, venture into a career and better their personal lots and that of their families.”