By: Kate Obi/Kaduna
The Chairman, Main Organizing Committee Plateau State Sports, Mr. Mbum Ferdinand has lamented the need for all hands to be on deck if the grassroots sports will come back alive, saying sports are dead in Nigeria and people concern are not paying serious attention to the problem.
Mr. Mbum Ferdinand who stated this shortly after he presented an Award of Excellence to the National President, Nigeria Basketball Federation, (NBBF), Alhaji Tijani Umar at the VIP Lounge of the Murtala Square ln-door Hall in Kaduna North-West, Nigeria Thursday lamented that to put grassroots sports back on the track may be difficult if all hands are not on deck to correct the abnormalities in the industry.
“Sports are dead in Nigeria and people are not paying serious attention to this problem. Imaging majority of schools in Nigeria are not having sports facilities”, he emphasized.
The Chairman also informed that the Nigerian schools are lacking sports facilities to revamp sporting activities from its present situation across the country and called on Government at all levels to ensure they give grassroots sport support it required as that is where all the who is who in sport today started.
On the Award, Mr. Ferdinand said Alhaji Tijani Umar was conferred with an Excellence Award based on the achievement of his board in the area of grassroots basketball development as well the development of the game to the international level since he took over the at the helm of affairs in 2009.
“Plateau Sports Excellence Award is an award held in Jos to recognize those who have done exceptionally well in sports development in the country. Tijjani Umar was doing his thing by developing basketball and little did he know that people are taking notice”.
This is to tell him that Nigerians were taking notice of his developmental strides in basketball. So, in the national category he was singled out to be honoured based on his efforts at repositioning basketball in Nigeria which has seen the country’s basketball develop from national to international level. Today, Nigeria’s basketball is among the world super powers. In the area of sponsorship, he has done very well and the world today recognizes the achievements and development of our national teams particularly D’Tigers and D’Tigress,” Ferdinand explained.
In his response, Alhaji Tijjani Umar described the award as recognition to a collective effort of his board, describing it as an institutional and collective achievement rather than personal.
“I want to express gratitude to the organizers of this award. Sometimes back, the Sports Writers of Nigeria (SWAN), Abuja branch honoured me same way and the national body of SWAN also did same in Yankari, Bauchi State, but these are not personal achievements. I see them as institutional achievements borne out of the collective effort of my board. These awards are for every genuine stakeholder in Nigerian basketball” he said.
“I am happy to be part of the development of the game so far and look forward to better days ahead. Nigerians should see what is happening today as a passing phase and part of development of the game. Our sponsors should know that at the end, it will ensure stability and sustainable basketball development.” He concluded.
According to him, bringing basketball to this level was not easy and providing leadership in the challenging environment is also tough because there is no level playing field
Alhaji Tijjani Umar however called on basketball followers, enthusiasts and sponsors not to mind the current dispute in the game’s administration but see it as a passing phase that is part of basketball development.