Nigeria’s female basketball team is being owed money and respect

standing up to constantly inept sports administration

Nigeria’s shoddy sports administration system has made it a consistent duty to fail athletes representing the country. In the lead-up to this year’s summer Olympics, Nigeria made history as the first African country to qualify for both the male and female basketball events at the games. Unfortunately, in the midst of the pre-Olympics excitement, it came to light that the Nigerian government and its sports ministry wasn’t putting their entire weight behind the basketball teams. The lack of adequate support was thankfully augmented by a GoFundMe campaign and donations from a coalition of local banks.

As it turns out, the latter donations have allegedly been misappropriated, with players and coaching officials being owed allowances from participating in the Olympics and the FIBA Afrobasket competition shortly after. In a now-viral video, members of the female basketball team, D’Tigress, decried their treatment by the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) and the sports ministry, listing out important grievances, from monies owed to general disregard despite representing the country on a consistently applaudable basis. This year, D’Tigress made history as the first team to win the FIBA Afrobasket competition on three consecutive occasions.


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“We are owed $73,118 by the NBBF, $24,000 by the Ministry for the Tokyo grant, and $100,000 donation from three banks in Nigeria,” team member Ify Ibekwe outlined in the video. In what seems like a statement sequentially read by the entire team, they demanded accountability for the money they were being owed and better general treatment befitting of their status as the best basketball team on the continent. They also stated their resolve to boycott all training camps in the near future until their demands are met, threatening to boycott the World Cup qualifiers scheduled for late September next year if warranted.

In a statement signed by permanent secretary Ismaila Abubakar, the sports ministry has claimed that the monies are intact and have not been diverted, and they’re currently being held by the NBBF bank account with the CBN pending disbursement. The ministry also claimed some of the players have yet to provide their account details, and will start sending the money as soon as compiling is finished. In a retorting statement, published on the D’Tigress Instagram page, they’ve rejected the ministry’s explanations and any measures that involve part-payments, while reiterating their three demands: Payment of total amount owed, improved travel conditions for camps and competition, and the hiring of a competition general manager.

Usually, the sports ministry and Nigerian government are not used to being fearlessly challenged by national athletes, and part of that is because most members of D’Tigress are playing professionally in countries with better functioning sports administration systems. It remains to be seen if these demands are wholly and urgently treated, but it’s invigorating to Nigeria’s female basketball team pushing for the respect they well and truly deserve.


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@dennisadepeter is a staff writer at the NATIVE.