Infrastructure development, especially at the community level, is vital to the development of sports globally. People need to play sports to developer their skills and to grow interest in the sport.
Many young Nigerians do not play sports because of lack of infrastructure within the community they reside, and this has stunted the growth of many sports in the country including basketball. This is exactly what NBA Africa hopes to change with its investment in basketball courts across the country.
Last year, NBA Africa`s Vice President & Country Head of NBA Nigeria, Gbemisola Abudu, announced NBA`s intention to build 1,000 basketball courts in Nigeria in a bid to create a talent pipeline that can groom young kids to elite basketball players.
Since the announcement, the organisation has delivered on its promise with the refurbishment of courts in Ikorodu and Festac Town. Its newest addition to the project is the refurbishment of the Campos Stadium basketball court in partnership with the Agence Française de Développement (AFD).
The newly refurbished court, which was unveiled on Thursday, September 14, is part of the Jr. NBA & AFD Basketball Experience program in Lagos commenced in June in collaboration with the Lagos State Sports Commission. It is expected that the court will benefit youth from Lagos and surrounding communities by providing them with access to basketball infrastructure which guarantees opportunities to learn and play the game of basketball.
The unveiling ceremony was attended by French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann; Consul General of France in Lagos, Laurent Favier; AFD Director for Nigeria, Xavier Muron; NBA Africa VP and Country Head of NBA Nigeria, Gbemisola Abudu; 2003 WNBA Champion, Astou Ndiaye; and Dream Sports Africa Founder & CEO, Chenfa Dombin.
In her speech, the French Ambassador to Nigeria, Emmanuelle Blatmann, recognised the power of sports to unite people and empower the youth.
“Sports have the power to unite people, and this project exemplifies the strong ties between France, AFD, and Nigeria in promoting youth empowerment and skill development through sport. I am convinced that having this dedicated sharing space will enable young girls and boys to become changemakers in their local communities.”
Jr. NBA & AFD Basketball Experience program is part of AFD and NBA Africa’s larger collaboration to support youth development through basketball across the continent and builds on the inaugural Jr. NBA & AFD Basketball Experience launched in Zenata, Morocco in 2019.
The AFD Director for Nigeria, Xavier Muron, expressed his pleasure and optimism that the project will develop greater impact in education, social inclusion and sustainable development.
`We are thrilled to witness the opening of Lagos` first basketball court as part of the Basketball Experience program, made possible through our joint efforts with the NBA and Lagos State Sports Commission to promote social inclusion, sustainable development and gender equality. This new facility will give even greater impact to the deployment of education through sports activities in schools, by providing young people with a space in which to practice and realize their full potential.”
In November 2021, AFD and NBA Africa initiated a pilot phase in Lagos implemented by international non-governmental organisation Dream Sports Africa. To date, the programme has reached more than 34,000 boys and girls ages 12-17 from 55 public and private schools in Lagos State. Chenfa Dombin, Founder and CEO of Dream Sport Africa understand the importance of such collaborations.
`In Nigeria, basketball plays a significant role in our culture and communities while speaking to youth in a language they understand. Innovative partnerships, such as Basketball Experience, empower youth with educational and engaging learning experiences that prepare them for life after school and the future.”
For Gbemisola Abudu, the refurbishment of the Campos basketball court further confirms NBA Africa`s commitment towards developing basketball on the continent and the organisation will continue to deliver on its promise through strategic partnerships.
“The unveiling of the newly refurbished court in partnership with AFD is a testament to our continued efforts to use the power of sport to positively impact African youth. We remain committed to using the game as a vehicle for driving positive social and economic change in Nigeria and we hope that the new basketball court will encourage more young boys and girls to play the game and live healthy, active lifestyles.”
Following the court unveiling, NBA Africa & AFD hosted a Jr. NBA clinic for 70 boys and girls to celebrate the newly refurbished court.
Images - NBA Africa