Frank Osayi`s story is similar to the stories of many Nigerians who would have played professional basketball at the highest level if they had started earlier than they did. Born and raised in Nigeria, Osayi traveled to Netherlands in his early teens and ended up schooling in the Netherlands, Ireland and the United States. He started playing basketball when he was 14 and he fell in love with the game.
"There was something about the game that made me feel at peace on the court. So it gave birth to a desire to play professionally and in the NBA"
He pursued this dream and played for different teams in Ireland and Netherlands. When he eventually made it to the United States, he discovered how competitive it was joining a professional team in the US and making it to the NBA. He also realized the advantage the players born and raised in the US had over others - they start early.
"Most of the players there were extremely good and had started playing from a very early age. When this happened, I always wondered "what if i had started earlier in Nigeria, Would this have made a difference?"
This made him venture into coaching. He wanted to give the younger generation in Ireland the opportunity he did not have and help them start early. He also started organizing pickup games with his peers. Organizing pickup games made him see the need for a better way to organize and manage these games, and as a Software Engineer, he decided to solve it.
"After organizing games for a few years, I quickly realized that there was a clear need for a better way to manage these pickup games and training sessions. I used email groups, WhatsApp groups and sometimes Facebook groups to manage my team, but they were not efficient enough. This was when I decided to attempt to solve this problem by creating a platform that was basketball specific."
This led to the design and launching of the PGRaters.
The PGRaters app connects basketball players, coaches and organizers from around the world with a vision to bring visibility to the basketball community. The application helps individuals organize pickup games in the neighbourhood and find scheduled tournaments to participate in. It also gives players the opportunity to have their skilled rated and their profile ranked.
According to Osayi, the main objective of PGRaters is to transform the way basketball is perceived on the playground by creating a global basketball network that increases competitiveness, engagement and excitement. But charity begins at home. While the app has already succeeded in the Ireland, Osayi understands there`s a greater need for such platform in Africa and is working towards its promotion in Nigeria. Growing up in Benin City, Edo State with limited exposure to basketball, he understands how the app will increase the access to basketball through community pickup games.
"The reason I am focusing on Africa now, starting with Nigeria, is because I feel there are many talented players that have no way of showcasing themselves to the world; players with talents but they have no visibility. So I aim to drive basketball inclusion in the Nigeria."
In an environment where players need more games to help them improve their skills and a platform for recognition, PGRaters provides a perfect tool that will ensure that more games are organised and played, that community basketball is revived and better promoted, that basketball players network more with other players within and beyond their immediate community, that basketball fans are aware of events within the environment and the country at large, and that active players receive feedback and ratings.
If you ask, this sounds like what basketball in Nigeria so desperately needs at the moment. The PGRaters app is available for download on both Android and IOS. You can also check out the website for more information about the app and its features.