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Nigeria Makes U-Turn Over Basketball Withdrawal

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Nigeria has made a U-turn over its decision last month to withdraw from international basketball for the next two years.
At the time, the Ministry of Youth and Sports said the withdrawal was because of “the unending drama that have plagued and nearly crippled basketball” in the country.
It argued that the decision, which was approved by President Muhammadu Buhari, would enable the country to “revamp” the sport from grassroots level and revive “moribund” domestic leagues.
The reversal comes after talks between officials from the sport’s world governing body, FIBA, and Nigeria’s Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare.
A letter from the FIBA-recognised Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) President, Musa Kida outlining key changes, which could be made, also helped prompt the government’s change in position.
The move means Nigeria men’s team will be able to continue in the qualifying campaign for the 2023 World Cup in Rwanda next month, where they will play Mali, Uganda and Cape Verde.
D’Tigers are top of the group on points difference after the first round of games last November, with the top three in the pool advancing to the second round of qualifying which is set to begin in August.
However, the announcement comes too late for the women’s national team to be reinstated into this year’s Women’s World Cup.
Earlier this month FIBA took the decision to replace Nigeria with Mali at the tournament, which will be held in Australia in September and October.
The decision to pull out of global basketball had been met with dismay by players and officials in Nigeria, and also abroad.
Women’s international Upe Atosu described it as “heart-wrenching” while Masai Ujiri, a Nigerian-Canadian who is president of NBA side Toronto Raptors, criticised NBBF officials.
According to the Ministry of Youth and Sports, its meeting with FIBA produced “common understanding in certain areas”.
It added that both FIBA and Nigeria had made a commitment “to explore and collaborate on enhancing relationships, development of basketball and reaffirmed mutual respect for the laws and constitution of Nigeria as a sovereign state”.
The letter from NBBF president Kida said the organisation would set up a team to “reconcile all contending parties in the basketball family at home and abroad”.
Ultimately, President Buhari was again consulted and approved the return.”President Muhammadu Buhari, being one that is committed to youth development and desirous of ensuring that they are availed of all opportunities in sports and other endeavours considered the appeal,” a statement from the Ministry of Youth and Sports said.
“In the overriding spirit of national interest, love for our youth, and in order to avoid sending basketball development into a long period of suspension, when NBBF have now committed to resolution of the issues which precipitated the withdrawal in the first place, has approved the return of Nigeria to international basketball immediately.”
The sport in Nigeria has been blighted by a protracted leadership crisis following a controversial election six years ago, leaving two parallel boards laying claim to the leadership of the federation.
The battle for control of Nigerian basketball has often hampered preparations for international competitions and crippled the country’s domestic leagues.
Kida was re-elected as NBBF president in January, a result which was ratified by Fiba in March.

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Nigeria’s Sports Journalists Amongst Best In World – Sports Minister

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The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Sunday Dare, at the weekend, felicitated with sports journalists across the country and beyond, as this year’s International Sports Journalists Day was celebrated worldwide.
Dare, a journalist, said that the profession is a noble one reserved for hardworking personalities, who work round the clock, all year-round, to give sports the needed reportage.
“This day deserves to be celebrated, as I am a sports journalist myself, and I know the efforts and passion they put into their job daily.
“Today, I celebrate sports journalists, who have made immeasurable, sacrifice for sports across the globe, especially in Nigeria,” he said.
He added, “in Nigeria, they rank very high among professionals, who put so much passion into their work, no matter what they face.
“You have not paid attention to the hazards of the job, but instead you have chosen to be partners in the development of sports. This, in itself, calls for celebration and I join in this celebration.”
The 2022 event themed: “Securing a Sustainable and Peaceful Future For All,” is being celebrated by sports journalists, media organisations and related industries across the world since 1994.

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AITEO Cup: Coach Expresses Disappointment Over Change Of Venue

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The Head coach of Police Crime Busters FC of Port Harcourt, ASP Douye Ghomorai, has expressed sadness over the change of venue for the final of this year’s AITEO Cup from Sharks Football Stadium.
He explained that the orgnisers had not given any reason why they changed the venue to Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium, saying that Sharks football Stadium has been the traditional host of the AITEO Cup finals.
ASP Ghomorsi said this in a telephone interview with Tidesports shortly after the Rivers State Football Association, (RSFA), announced the shift of venue to Adokiye Amiesimaka Stadium last week.
According to him, the shift of venue will adversely affect fans of his team, especially, in terms of transporting themselves to attend the match.
“We are not happy over the change of the venue because our fans may not be there to cheer their team to victory.
This is not fair with us because it is not going to be easy for our supporters and fans” ASP Ghomorai said.
He appealled to the leadership of the State FA to rescind their decision, noting that though football could be played on any pitch, the spectators should be considered first.
“We are going to play the game but I am appealing because we want a situation where we will have more people to watch the game”
The final match of this year’s Rivers state AITEO Cup will take place on Wednesday at the Adokiye Amiesimaka stadium between Rivers United FC and Police Crime Busters FC by 3pm.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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NPFL: Rivers United Receive Commendations Over Title Win

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Rivers United FC of Port Harcourt have continued to receive commendations following their impressive performance this season and subsequent emergence as winners of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) this season with three matches left.
The latest came from Head coach of New Guner FC of Gokana Local Government Area, in Rivers State, Legbara Gentle, who said that it is a good thing that has happened to the State and football.
Gentle made the assertion in a telephone interview with Tidesports at the weekend.
According to him, if the Pride of Rivers State, as Rivers United are known, maintain their current form, they can win the CAF Champions League.
“If Rivers United FC can maintain their current form, they can even win the continental trophy next season.
As a coach I know it is not easy to win the NPFL title because competition is very high as every club wants to win the League” Gentle said.
He further commended the management team of the club led by Barrister Christopher Green and technical crew, for their efforts and commitment to achieve success.

By: Kiadum Edookor

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