Members of the women national basketball team yesterday expressed their determination to excel at the FIBA Women World Cup, which begins today in Tenerife, Spain.The players see the competition as an opportunity to show that Nigeria's basketball has come of age.
The team was hosted yesterday in Abuja by Sports Minister, Solomon Dalung, who informed them of the Federal Government's expectations of them.Speaking at the reception, D'Tigress' captain, Ngozi Elonu said the girls were committed to doing their best in Spain, adding that playing as African champions means they were also representing the whole continent in the competition.
Elonu thanked the Nigeria Basketball Federation President, Musa Kida for ensuring the team's early call to camp and early preparations to stand a chance of competing seriously at the World Cup.
Earlier, Dalung, who organised a send-forth party for the girls in his office, advised the team to compete clean and fair at the competition.Speaking on behalf of President Muhammadu Buhari, Dalung said, "It is the belief of this government that for every competition, you should compete clean and fair. The country is standing solidly behind you. We are looking out for you with hope that with hard work, you can bring the trophy home."
Dalung said the Ministry under his watch was giving equal opportunities to all sports men and women to excel at the grassroots and international stage, adding, "We are deliberately looking toward the development of female sports and we believe that once we are able to equitably tackle the imbalance between the men's football, women's football, men's basketball and women's basketball, our women will do us proud because they have less of the controversies compared to the men."
The Minister thanked the players for their dedication and willingness to heed the clarion call to represent Nigeria in Spain, saying, "I want to thank you sincerely for honouring the invitation to come to camp, for considering service to your country as a priority. You are a team that is very compact, driven by common interest and also determined.
"I believe that the sky will be the limit of this team."Also speaking at the reception, NBBF President, Musa Kida, who was represented by the Vice President, Babatunde Ogunade, thanked the minister for his support since they were sworn in in 2017.At the ceremony were the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Youth and Sports, Olusade Adesola and the Nigeria Olympic Committee (NOC) President, Habu Gumel, as well as other staff of the ministry.