Stakeholders have lamented D’Tigress’ 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup miss in the wake of the Federal Government’s decision to lift a two-year ban placed on international basketball, The PUNCH reports.
The ban was reversed after the sports minister Sunday Dare and other stakeholders lobbied for it to be rescinded, a top ministry official Ismaila Abubakar told reporters.
The Nigeria Basketball Federation had been plagued by a series of leadership crises over the years, with two parallel boards laying claim to the leadership of the federation.
On January 31, incumbent Musa Ahmadu-Kida emerged as the winner in an election held in Benin City, while Mark Igoche was voted president in another election, the same day in Abuja.
Following the crises, the sports ministry on May 12 announced via a statement quoting the President, Major General Muhammadu Buhari (retd.) that the government had approved the country’s “immediate withdrawal” from all international basketball competitions for two years.
The sports ministry then inaugurated an Interim Management Committee that would “draw up programmes that will revamp basketball from the grassroots in Nigeria.”
Following the government’s decision, the sport’s global governing body, FIBA, kicked five-time African champions D’Tigress out of the 2022 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Australia.
D’Tigress, Africa’s most successful women’s basketball team of the past two decades, had qualified for September’s World Cup in Australia after defeating France and Mali in Group B of the FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup 2022 Qualifying Tournament in Belgrade, Serbia.
FIBA’s decision came after deliberations with the Nigeria Basketball Federation on how the government decision could be rescinded fell through.
Mali were subsequently picked to replace Nigeria at the World Cup.
D’Tigress guard Atosu Upe, a 2017 FIBA AfroBasket winner, said the ban reversal was not timely.
“It’s (reversal) coming too late and too bad,” she told The PUNCH.
Also, speaking with The PUNCH, Babs Ogunade, the vice president of the Ahmadu-Kida-led NBBF board, also rued the fate of the D’Tigress players.
“It’s just so sad that the girls who laboured hard to qualify for the World Cup will not participate in the competition, but if we put our house in order, D’Tigers (men’s team) could feature in the next window for the World Cup qualifying in Rwanda. But it’s a shame that the girls won’t be at the World Cup.”
Director of Sports, MFM, Godwin Enakhena, applauded the Federal Government’s decision but described D’Tigress stars as the eventual victims of the controversial suspension.
“This is one of the best things to happen to basketball,” he said. “But the D’Tigress were simply victims of this. After war, peace follows, but let it not be when so much damage had been done. Rescinding the two-year self-imposed ban on international basketball won’t bring back the pain the girls are going through for not going to the World Cup.”
Rivers Hoopers’ coach Ogoh Odaudu added, “The ban has already cost the D’Tigress their place in this year’s FIBA World Cup in Australia.”