Daily Trust (Abuja)

15 December 2012

Nigeria: 'Mark D Ball Basketball Tourney Is to Take Youths Off the Streets'

Comrade James Oche, the Senior Legislative Aide to Senate President David Mark, says the Mark D Ball 2012 basketball tournament is to keep youths off the streets.

He also said the tournament was aimed at helping the youth to choose a career in sports.

The aide told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja, that the Mark D Ball basketball tournament was one amongst many of Mark's youth development and empowerment initiatives through sports as a uniting force

The tournament, according to him, is an annual event with the Season 5 coming up from Dec. 26 to 31 in Otukpo.

Oche said the primary aim of the tournament was to bring basketball of international standard to the grassroots and to teach children the game for early build-up of their career.

He said the competition, which was initiated by Hon. Igoche Mark, would be powered by the senate president to help young people to become better citizens using the basketball medium.

He said that Nigeria could revive its image by encouraging the development of sports at the grassroots with the youth being the target.

Oche said more than 250 children within the ages of eight to sixteen years would be trained and that those selected after the training would be given scholarships to go to school and also build up their career in sports.

"The idea is we intend to train more than 250 students in the basketball academy and those that excel would be given scholarship; the theme here is catch them young while we teach them how to develop their skills.

"We also encourage them to go to school; to use sports as a past time; the idea is we believe that if you train up a child early enough in his skill, he will grow up to become the Tiger Woods of tomorrow and today's celebrated sportsmen."

According to him, the tournament is an annual basketball game that usually takes place during the festive period for six days which features female and male teams competing in a very challenging game for champions to emerged.

He said that the winners would take home trophies, medals, prize money and other attractive prizes to motivate the players.

Oche said the Mark D Ball basketball team would be unveiled by the senate president which would produce players to represent Nigeria at the 2012/2013 DSTV league season for transformation.

"Mark D Ball is set to produce a league team to compete in the Nigerian DSTV league for 2012/2013 season and this team will be unveiled in this year's edition of Mark d Ball by Senate President.

"The team is set to make history, to bring a major transformation in Nigerian basketball and beyond, to impact positively on youths and set Nigeria on a better platform to complete in forthcoming international events."

NAN

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