We were opportuned to have a chat with one of significantly improved players over the years on her achievements and what to expect in the years coming.
Ifunanya Ijeh at an earlier age in 2015, was amongst the players in Dolphins Basketball Club’s first Women’s Championship, after defeating Elephant Girls.
Ijeh recently got a sports scholarship into the Benson Idahosa University, and we are pleased to showcase this dialogue with one of our correspondents.
Hello Ifumnaya, how are you doing?
Am fine thank you
The entire crew congratulates you on the opportunity to further your education at Benson Idaosa University Benin, Edo State Nigeria.
Thank you very much I really appreciate you all
Is it a full or partial scholarship?
A partial scholarship
To study what course?
To study library and information science
Interesting!! How did you feel when you got the news that you have been offered a scholarship at BIU?
I was very excited because that was the least school I had in mind to go to, because it is a private university and one of the best in Nigeria
We are all happy for you.
Tell us about your basketball journey, how did you start? Who introduced you to the game? Can you still recall the first day you attempted a jump shot or tried to dribble the ball?
It all start in impression basketball academy at Asaba Girls Grammar School. I was actually a gymnast before joining basketball. I had a lot of friends back then in school who played basketball and also some neighbors who played basketball too, so one of them (Marvelous Okonne) advised me to give basketball a try. On this particular day I went to the court based on her advise. To my surprise I met lots of new people who are also learning the game, but I was the smallest among all of them, that didn't scare me because I was determined to learn the game.
Oftentimes my coach will always ask me and the other rookies to go to the other court (Abula court) to dribble the ball, he never allowed us play with the senior players back then but that did not change my mind on learning the game. My first attempted shot was an “air-ball” all the kids on court laughed at me but I kept on trying until I finally made my first shot (a free-throw).
Now, considering that basketball is a male dominated game did you feel reluctant to continue learning the game at any point?
Yes I have felt reluctant on so many occasions whereby I was been intimidated because of my height and size.
Ok but what about the gender issue, was it a factor at any point for you?
No it wasn't because I had a male friend back then who used to say to me that I should never be discouraged or intimidated by anyone. In addition, the guys back then where very encouraging and supportive.
So what major challenges did you face and how did you overcome them?
My major challenges were finance, how to become a better basketball player and a better person in life, but I over came all these challenges through Christ Jesus, whom I put all my hope and faith in, although it wasn't an easy one for me especially the aspect of finance. I lost my dad 4 years ago, but that didn't make me to stop believing everything was going to be alright hence I kept pushing and praying.
Oh!! Our deepest condolence to you and your folks.
How has basketball influenced your education before you secured this scholarship?
Basketball has really helped influence my education in so many ways, back then before I gained admission into BIU I go to places where educated people and some of the major top people in Nigeria are to gain/tap knowledge from them without any charges just because I am a basketball player. And it has really made me outspoken and able to express myself publicly when required.
Impressive!! What do your close pals (friends) think of your basketball/educational success thus far?
They think it is a very great achievement for me to play the game I really love and gaining education through it
Nice!! So, how do you handle missing out on activities with your close friends due to tight game schedules during the league and practice or workout?
I really don't feel bad because practicing or having a tight schedule surely are for my own betterment
But do your friends understand that you have to be a way to attend to something urgent & important?
Yes, they all understand because most of them are basketball players
Oh!! Really? That is nice....
Sports people are expected to eat healthy foods to be in top shape. Tell us, what foods do you love so much but you had to give them up especially when you are training or preparing for a major competition?
I give up most foods during major competitions especially Fufu because it makes me heavy during practice or while playing
What life skills (respect, hard work, teamwork, time management, goal setting, leadership, communication etc) has basketball reinforced in your everyday life?
Basketball has helped influence my everyday life, mentally, financially, educationally even spiritually. It has really thought me a lot of things in life, how to talk to people, being a good leader, working hard for what I want and respecting myself and others
Thus far, have you ever had issues with any of your teammates? If yes, how did you handle or resolve the issue?
I have never had any serious issue with any of my teammate, it was just a minor misunderstanding and I always went back to explain and get the issue resolved
Tell us a little about your best teammate. What makes her special?
The best teammate I ever had is Nene Okpe, although she is no longer in my team. Nene is a kind of person who is selfless, she thinks of a way to make her teammates look good on and off the court, she is a kind of player that can actually give her last money to anyone who is in need of it at that moment. Nene has always been an inspiration to me, her impacts in me remains indelible
In few words, describe your first coach and the current one.
My first coach is a man that can leave his home very early in the morning just to train his players and always check up on the ones that couldn't make it to training and also make sure they come to practice the next day.
My current coach on the other hand is a woman who encourages her player to do what's best for them, she looks after her players just like a mother will do to her children and she has our best interest at heart
Has your coach ever pressured you to perform on the court during a particular game?
Yes, mostly when I am having a bad day and my team is down
We know this will be a little emotional for you, apologies ok. What role has your parents or care givers played in your sport so far?
My parents mostly my dad is the reason why I still play this game today, he stood by me when everyone else gave up on me, he also thought me how to go for what I really want no matter what it will cost and he always ensured I have everything I needed to play
Very touching!! We strongly believe that every time you step on the court for a game or even right now he is cheering you to go all out and be the best you are created to be.....
Oh yes!! I believe so too
Can you recall if him or any of your siblings ever showed up for your game in person?
Yes my folks always come around to cheer me up anytime I have a game at the stadium in Asaba right from my Milo days till date though my dad only did twice before he passed on.
Nice!! In your opinion, what are the major challenges female basketball players in Nigeria and other African Countries face as regards education and basketball?
In Nigeria/Africa, most female basketball players face financial challenges while some of them just don't want to go to school because they think they are already making their money and they also think schooling will reduce their opportunities to go for competitions
What type of support do you look forward to from the Nigerian Government or National Basketball Federation?
The National basketball federation should at least help out in any way they can mostly financially to support players who don't have anyone to sponsor their education but are really eager to further their education or offer them scholarships based on partnership with Nigerian Universities.
What are your 5 years aspirations in line with basketball and education?
I aspire to graduate with good grades in school, play basketball professionally and giving back not only to my community but to Nigeria as a whole
Do you have basketball heroes? If yes, what are their names?
Mayo Moore she is really a player I look to play more than in the future
Wow!! She is outstanding
Ifumnaya Ijeh: Oh Yes
Any D'tigress player on your list of heroes?
What cogent advise do you have for your fellow female basketball players and upcoming ones?
Pray, be humble and train without season
Ifumnaya, thanks for your audience, it a pleasure talking with you. We wish you all the best in your endeavors. Stay safe & inspired. Cheers!!
Thank you very much
The leadership of the Nigeria Basketball Federation is saddened by the sudden demise of one of the foremost investigative sports journalists in Nigeria, Olajide Fashikun.
NBBF President, Engr Musa Kida said the circumstances surrounding his death in the early hours of Sunday, 27th of January at the Federal Medical Center in Abuja after a brief illness has left many people in shock.
Kida on behalf of the entire Nigerian Basketball stakeholders said Fashikun’s death was a very tragic way to start 2019 as he prayed to God to grant his soul perfect peace.
“We join millions of Nigerians in sympathizing with the family he left behind. This is really sad and we are devastated by his death.”
Kida opined that with death being an inevitable end to mankind, it is imperative that we strive to be upright and impact our environment and leave a mark on the sands of time.
“Fasikun is dead, but what he stood for and those lives he touched while he was with us will continue to bear testimonies about his good works.”
Fashikun who died at the age of 54 was a one-time Chairman of the Kwara State Chapter of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria, Sports Editor of the Herald newspaper, Managing Editor of Gong News and a former lecturer at Kwara Polytechnic.
Burial arrangements will be announced by the family in the coming days.
D’Tigers Head Coach, Alex Nwora has invited 15 players for the last window of the 2019 FIBA Men’s World Cup qualifiers taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire starting on the 18th of February
The team is dominated by players who missed out of the last phase of the qualifiers campaign hosted in Lagos.
Jekiri Tonye will likely make his debut for D’Tigers after missing out of action in the last window due to administrative reasons while Christopher Obekpa, Obinna Emegano and Efevhera Michael will also be making a return.
Ekene Ibekwe whose last appearance was at the 2016 Olympics in Rio and 34 year old Michael Umeh (2015 Afrobasket) with Italian serie A side Virtus Bologna have both been recalled to the fold.
Team captain and Sichuan Blue Whales player, Ike Diogu alongside, Stanley Okoye, Alade Aminu, Iroegbu Ike, Ike Nwamu, Ayodeji Akindele, Mbamalu Bryant, Zana Talib and Braxton Ogbueze complete the list of players invited
Nigeria will battle host- Côte d’Ivoire, Central African Republic and second placed Senegal with 16 points.
Currently ranked 33 in the world and first in Africa, the D’Tigers on a 9 match unbeaten run according to Nwora will hope to finish the campaign on a high a boost the team’s rating before the World Cup draws.
Alex Nwora said the preparation for the 2019 World Cup in China has started in earnest and it was imperative to give more quality players equal opportunity to fight for shirts.
“We were the first country in the world to qualify for the World Cup and it is very important that we start our preparation early.”
“The journey to get the team ready for the World Cup is a long one, but I am happy with the progress we have made so far.”
According to the Secretary General of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Chimezie Asiegbu, players and Technical crew are expected to fly straight to Abidjan from the clubs for logistics reasons.
Iroegbu Ike (Science City Jena, Germany)
Michael Umeh (Twarde Pieniki, Poland)
Ike Nwamu (Wisconsin Herd, USA)
Ekene Ibekwe (Levallois Metropolitan, France)
Efevhera Michael (Homemtmen Basketball Club, Lebanon)
Stanley Okoye (Tecynconta Zaragoza, Spain)
Diogu Ike (Sichuan Blue Whales, China)
Alade Aminu (Hapoel SP Tel Aviv, Israel)
Christopher Obekpa (Al Riyadh, Lebanon)
Ayodeji Akindele (Fuerza Regia Basquetbol, Lebanon)
Jekiri Tonye (Gaziantep, Turkey)
Obinna Emegano (Rouen Basket, France)
Mabamalu Bryant (CD Vildivia, Chile)
Zana Talib (Montakit Fuenlabrada, Spain)
Braxton Ogbueze (Basquet Coruna, Spain)
Woke up to find out that D'Tigress athlete Evelyn Akhator followed us the "second" time... without the blue verification badge.
Being suspicious, I quickly and thoroughly read the username and it was the same. Looked for other accounts with similar name, but none was found.
What might have happened?
On Thursday, 10th January, Award winning, D'Tigress athlete Evelyn Akhator got a sudden notice from Instagram, that her account had been deleted, due to suspicious activities.
"After I recovered it from Instagram, I realized the person was using my account to collect money and I think someone reported it and Instagram disabled my account" she said
"But I opened another just to be on the safe side" she added.
Hacking accounts, let alone a verified one, is not palatable in every sense it.
When managing your apps, it is a very good idea to make your password difficult to spoofed. Also avoid using public computers or devices to login, especially saving login details on the browser.
Evelyn's manager is currently working to restore her verification status and hopefully, her files lost alongside.
The 2019 FIBA Africa Basketball League draws is done and dusted with 16 teams grouped into 4. Qualified teams for the next round would be rated via round-robin.
Rivers Hoopers found itself in GROUP A alongside As Sale, JS Kairouan and SLAC, while Civil Defenders GROUP B with ES Rades, Elan BBC and BC Terreur.
In the advent of this tournament, there shall be 4 windows:
First Window: February 8-10
Second Window: February 15-17
Third Window: March 1-3
Fourth Window: March 8-10
Venues yet to be announced.
Top 2 teams from each group would qualify for the ELITE 8, where clubs would be divided into another 4 groups of 2 teams each.
This would occur from March 22 to April 14.
This is where it gets more interesting:
In this stage, teams would play a home-and-away games, and 4 teams are expected to qualify for the FINAL 4.
The FINAL 4 (May 3-5) would feature in one venue, for all to witness the champion of this novelty.
Both Nigerian teams are excited to be part of this historic moment.
Lastly, the FIBA African League is in partnership with the NBA and would be made official in February.
Nigerian security and Civil Defense Basketball delegates to the maiden edition of the FIBA Africa Basketball League Draws arrived Abidjan today abode Air Cote d'Ivoire .
The Duo of Deputy commandant Auwal Ibrahim and superintendent Victor Okoro were received at the airport by FIBA Africa.
The event is slated for tomorrow Saturday, 12th January, 2019.
Time: 18:00 GMT and would shown live on the FIBA Afroleague Facebook fanpage.
This marks a historic turnout for the representatives and team, as they not just qualified for the first edition of the FIBA ABL, but their first appearance at the Continental stage.
It has come to our notice that a Nigerian player was involved in a motor accident, that almost claimed her life, last year December.
Her name is Vivian Duru.
She played for Nasarawa at the just concluded Zenith Bank Women's League in Abuja, Savannah Conference.
Vivian is in need of Two million, five hundred thousand Naira (N2,500,000) for treatment.
We encourage you to assist anyway you can, especially financially.
Young Ochai Agbaji made a great impact yesterday on his debut for Kansas State University, after Udoka Azubike's torn ligament left a void.
With little thought on Wednesday night, Coach Bill Self said the team would burn Agbaji's redshirt.
Agbaji's parent grew up in Jos, Plateau State, Nigeria, before migrating to the United States of America. His mom and sister were present to cheer him one, while his father watched over the TV from Nigeria.
Confidence was the key over the sudden change of level from the bench to actual competitive play on the court; and this he got as his teammate Devon Dotson threw the ball for an easy alley op. His first bucket!
"It was really my teammates and the coaches that put me in the right position, they didn’t put any pressure on me, just believed in my athletic ability.” he said.
The game ended Texas Christian University 68-77 Kansas University.
With 25 mins of play, Agbaji made seven points, four rebounds, one assist and two steals.
Fans welcomed the development and hope to see consistency and positive growth without their big man, Udoka Azubuike.
So many things to be thankful for.
Both Men & Women qualified for the FIBA Basketball World Cup.
Nigeria breaking grounds local and international scenes.
New players of Nigerian bloodline discovered, in foreign teams, most of which are the best.
Nowhere you won't find a Nigerian doing exceedingly well, not just in sports business, but education.
The seemingly downside was the political attack of which some media individuals and houses allowed themselves to be used to lengthen the unnecessary, and partially stunt the imminent growth of the game.
First ever FIBA3x3 World Cup outing in Philippines.
D'Tigress led by Otis Hughley, was the first African team in history to reach the Quarter Finals of the Women's World Cup. Let's not forget the first country to fly an indigenous kit brand, AFA Sports 🇳🇬.
The Men, D'Tigers led by Alex Nwora, who already qualified for the FIBA World Cup are yet to be beaten.
Rivers Hoopers are back after seven years of absence, while Defenders Basketball who had a bad run last year have qualified for the first ever FIBA AfroLeague
While, more foreign aides came through, grassroots development: individuals didn't wait for philanthropist abroad to run their clinic and expose more kids to the game, but the light shed by the developed countries continued.
CBL Africa🇳🇬 came gunning briefly, but got more fanbase after changing location to the mainland. Branded jerseys, balls, kits, etc flooded the area. Talk about sports business.
People actually bought tickets to watch games...funny the development wasn't welcomed by individuals who ought to know better.
There's so much to be thankful for.
What is yours?
This piece is dedicated to our media friends all over. Let's promote the game and not destroy.
We can do better.