Minister To Sponsor Two Air Warriors Basketball Players To 2020 Olympics
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By Amaechi Agbo
The minister of youth and sports development, Sunday Akin Dare has promised to sponsor two players of the victorious 2019 National Basketball League champions, Air Warriors of Abuja to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Games, Bestchoicesports.com.ng can report.
The minister made the pledge while hosting the players and management of the club in his office in Abuja on Friday.
Mr Dare who expressed excitement over the feat achieved by the young team noted that he was deeply encouraged by their skills and talents and promised that the ministry will collaborate with the Nigeria Basketball Federation with a view to supporting them to achieve greater feat in the future.
The minister commended the management of the club and its technical crew for keeping the girls together and being able to win the league in their first appearance.
“It is very exciting for me to receive the Air Warriors Basketball Club. When I watched them play in Lagos I saw a team with talents and skills and predicted that they will go a long way. I told them that if they win the cup, they should come to Abuja to visit me. They eventually won the cup.
“Two of the players have made the national team, so they are hugely a talented team. Their story is very compelling. It is their first time ever they are competing in the basketball league and they came out top unbeaten. No team has ever set that record. That is hugely commendable.
“Also you look at their narrative, they are supported by a private individual not government, not the sports ministry but with a bit of logistics support by the federation, Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF. This says a lot that private individuals can play a great role in developing our sports, discovering talents and also nurturing them.
“From this point, we are going to make sure that the NBBF works closely with them, we are going to support them to remain a strong team. We intend to take two of them to the Olympics to go and watch the team Nigeria play, beyond that, we are going to introduce them to the Olympic scholarship fund that will help to support their education,” the minister said.
On the fifty thousand dollar fine the club will pay to FIBA Africa for failing to participate in the FIBA Africa Basketball League, the minister said that NBBF president, Musa Kida is handling it but added that the ministry will see that the fine is duly paid.
“I spoke with the NBBF President last night and he is already taking that up. That is a settled matter. The fine will be paid eventually. And going forward, we will make sure we carry out all necessary payment and give them the needed support.
“Basically, the team is a private team, because of what we have seen that they have done, they are the national champions. The way it is structured, the federation is the incubator and they will take care of them. The federation will then interface with the ministry on their behalf. Like I said, we will give them absolute support,” he said.
Speaking on behalf of the club, the Chairman/CEO Air Warriors, Abduldumajeed Solademi thanked the minister for the honour done them.
Mr Solademi who described the minister as a ‘father’ said that the reception will go a long way to motivate not only the players but also himself to do more with the team and sports generally.
“We give glory to God Almighty. We also thank the minister, he is a father. He is a philanthropist. He is somebody that encourages others to excel. In fact, these girls even if their moral are down, he has changed the narrative. Everyone of the player is happy and their aspirations have been increased.
“When I look at the whole thing, I had a doubt about the project in the beginning. We had challenges but with the feat achieved and this reception by the honourable minister, I have a different mind-set that even if it is my last kobo to support the team or help people in the street, and I know that the reward is not only in heaven but right here on earth, I will keep investing.”