Nneka Ogwumike’s petition to represent Nigeria at the 2020 Olympics was on Wednesday rejected by basketball governing body, FIBA, due to “substantial involvement” of more than 10 years with Team USA.
Ogwumike, a 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player, who played competitively for Team USA from 2009 to 2018, is seeking to explore all available options, including a possible application to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, according to ESPN.
Tidesports source reports that the Nigerian Basketball Federation filed an appeal to FIBA on behalf of Ogwumike and Elizabeth Williams, the Atlanta Dream centre who was also denied because of previous involvement with Team USA.
The federation wrote that Ogwumike and Williams were “two of the top players that would have made our team one of the strongest at the Games.”
“We do tacitly believe there are undercurrents and motivation for such a decision which is repugnant to natural justice, equity and good conscience. It is also outrightly discriminatory because players of African descent are approved to play for other countries constantly but the reverse is not the case,” NBBF added.
Generally, if players have competed for the United States in a FIBA-sanctioned event after having reached their 17th birthday, they are not allowed to play for another country in a FIBA event. However, according to FIBA’s regulations on player eligibility, the organisation’s secretary general may authorise a player to compete for the national team of his or her country of origin if this is in the interest of the growth of basketball in that country.
One of FIBA’s pillars of emphasis currently is the growth of women’s basketball worldwide.
The IOC rules only require an athlete to be nationalised by the country they’re competing for. They can compete for a different country three years after they competed for their previous country.
Ogwumike last competed internationally for the United States three years ago in the 2018 World Cup.
She had sought to play for Nigeria with her two sisters, Chiney and Erica, previously telling ESPN, “It’s something I know my family would be very proud of. I’m hoping it will contribute to the growth we’re experiencing for Africa in basketball.”
Chiney, a former No.1 overall pick who now stars with her older sister for the Los Angeles Sparks, was approved to play for Nigeria as a naturalised player, a condition that could affect the rest of the Nigerian roster as only one player can have that status. She is also required to pay $5,000 Swiss Francs (approximately $5,468).
Sources said Chiney is also expected to appeal FIBA’s ruling on her status.
Erica was approved to play for Nigeria without any conditions, essentially giving the three Ogwumike sisters three different statuses by FIBA.
The Ogwumikes’ parents, Peter and Ify, were both born in Nigeria and immigrated to the United States, where their daughters were born. The Ogwumike sisters have dual citizenship with the United States and Nigeria.
They have been filming and developing a documentary on their experiences playing together for the Nigerian national team, sources said.
In letters sent to Ogwumike and Williams, FIBA Secretary General Andreas Zagklis explained the rationale for denying their petitions because of “the substantial involvement of the player with the USA national team for more than ten years.”
Nneka, 31, was a longtime member of the US senior national team, winning gold medals with the American squad in 2014 and 2018 at the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup.
Organisers Explain 2021 NSF Postponement
According to a statement by the Festival Secretary, Peter Nelson, and addressed to all Commissioners of Sports and Directors of Sports, the postponement was at the request of the host, Delta State.
“I wish to convey the request of Delta State Government to shift the date of the 21st National Sports Festival earlier scheduled to hold from November 2 to 15, 2022.
“It is now shifted to start on November 28 to December 10, 2022.
“The reason for the postponement is to give Delta State more time to complete some of the facilities needed for the festival,” the statement reads.
It will be recalled that the 20th edition of the National Sports Festival held in Benin City, Edo State, which was tagged: “Edo 2020,” also suffered several postponements until it finally held from April 2 to 14.
Nigeria Must Embrace Grassroots Sports Dev – Amusan
Speaking in Lagos at a dinner organised in her honour by The Plug, an entertainment firm, tagged ‘Tobi Amusan’s Homecoming,’ she blamed the exodus of the Nigeria’s top athletes to other countries to what such nations offer the athletes.
“Grassroots sports development is something we lack here and the reason we often lose our top athletes to other countries of the world.
“From my experience training in the United States, if we can have such development here, we can groom young talents and unearth more Tobi Amusans,” she said.
On the recent ratification of her record by World Athletics, Amusan said: “That my world record was ratified by the world body means that I am drug free and that I am clean. I feel great about it. Every time I am on the track, my eyes are always set on how to win and I execute it by winning.”
She also spoke on the recent reception by the Federal Government, saying, “It is great feeling that we were recognised by the president of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. In as much as we did the work, it was an honour that they took into account and they recognised the fact that we did the nation proud. It is such a great feeling getting the national honour.”
She acknowledged the support she got after her world record feat, with her followers on Twitter rising from 3000 to 150,000 under 24 hours, saying it showed that people appreciate what she is doing.
On the criticism by men’s 400 metres world record holder, Michael Johnson, after her record breaking race in Oregon, U.S, Amusan said she was not bothered. “Honestly, I kept doing my thing because after the World Championships, I had other competitions to attend. I don’t dwell on negativity… I look on the bright side of the sport.”
At the event, Flutterwave, which used the occasion to declare it has signed a multi-year partnership deal with Amusan, said: “It is very difficult to find athletes who embody our core values the way Tobi does.”
YSFON : Academy Coach Begs For Assistance
He said that his team was representing Rivers state at the ongoing Chief of Naval Staff National (YSFON) Competition in Ilorin, Kwara State. He said he had written a letter to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals for assistance.
King made the assertion on Saturday in an exclusive interview with Tidesports in Port Harcourt before leaving for Kwara state.
According to him he had nothing to do than to borrow money for the journey believing that when the State’s Commissioner for Sports sees the letter he would not fail to respond to it.
“ As you can see, my boys are ready for the competition but we lack support.
“ I have written to the Ministry of Sports and also to some private individuals to assist us but I have not gotten any reply, yet.
By: Kiadum Edookor
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