Olumide Oyedeji, a former NBA star and National basketball player says improved funding of basketball and other sports has the potential to secure better medal chances for the nation.
Oyedeji said this on Sunday in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja.
According to him, governments, corporate bodies and individuals in Nigeria pay more attention to football while other sports, that are more promising, get little attention.
“Football gets about two to five million dollars from FIFA yearly and government puts another two million dollars into it.
“I believe if all other sports can get up to 10 per cent of allocations that they give to football we will be able to move Nigerian sports forward.
“For example, basketball is the highest ranked sport in Nigeria and is ranked number sixteen in the world but nothing has yet been done to further support the game in the country,” he said.
Oyedeji urged governments and corporate bodies to properly fund other sports in order to positively engage the youths and to develop the nation’s sporting capacity.
He also called on stakeholders in sports development, especially the federations and journalists, to improve their efforts to better the sector.
“Every stakeholder has to do a better job of promoting a better image. They are already doing a good job, but they have to do a better job.
“When you move around, you hear that some corporate bodies stopped sponsoring championships because of poor accountability and such problems.
“All stakeholders need to come together to tackle our shortfalls, the media too has a role to play to redress the problem of bad publicity.”
Oyedeji called on journalists to avoid bias and remain objective in their reportage of events, especially when the country’s image is at stake.
“For example, if all I read about basketball is negative, why will I want to put my money into basketball?
“So let us all try to look for positive and encouraging things to write about our own country’s efforts,” he said.
NAN reports that Oyedeji is currently sponsoring a team (Hoops and Read) in the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) Division 1 Championship 2016 currently holding in Abuja.
Also in an interview with NAN, Tijani Umar, the NBBF President said: “NBBF organises competitions for various leagues in the country to harness talents.
“We are already putting measures in place to lengthen duration of the division one league once we have money.
“The more people play basketball, the better their capacity. This will mean better encouragement and value for sponsors.
“We are putting a lot of measures in place to ensure that division one is raised to a level where we can sell it,” he said.