May 29, 2024
Nigerian Basketball Growth

Basketball often hailed as a global sport has the power to unite communities, inspire individuals, and foster the development of young talents into superstars.

In Nigeria, a country with rich sports culture and a growing interest in basketball, the sport’s potential is undeniable.

However, beneath the surface of enthusiasm lies a concerning reality – “the deplorable state of basketball infrastructure”.

In this article, we take a holistic perspective on its present state from a developmental view, while shedding light on the urgent need for improvement as well as possible solutions to be deployed. Enjoy the read…

INTRODUCTION

Two questions come to mind when looking at this topical issue. By having an in-depth understanding of these two questions, we should be on the right track.

  • How does the lack of proper facilities hinder the growth and development of basketball in the country?
  • What are the key issues contributing to the deplorable state of basketball infrastructure in Nigeria?

How Does the Lack of Proper Facilities Hinder The Growth and Development of Basketball in the Country?

The scarcity of proper facilities poses a significant obstacle to the growth of basketball and as we all know, infrastructure lies at the heart of every developmental strategy for sports including basketball.

Recognizing the importance of sports development, particularly at the grassroots level, schools, and communities play a pivotal role in nurturing talent and fostering a passion for the game.


“The basketball infrastructure in Nigeria is no doubts in a deplorable state, casting a shadow on the country’s developmental prospects in the sport.

To foster progress, urgent attention must be given to revamping facilities, establishing grassroots programs, and forging partnerships with private investors and international organizations.

With these, I tell you Nigeria can unlock the latent talent elevating its basketball status on the global stage”. Kenny Bamidele -Basketball Journalist


PARTICIPATION IN COMMUNITIES

According to a recent survey, a significant number of individuals are compelled to relocate entirely due to the scarcity of basketball courts in their vicinity.

Additionally, some are forced to walk long distances, spanning kilometers, just to access a basketball court in their local area.

In developed countries like the U.S., basketball courts are abundantly present in communities, serving as accessible public spaces for enthusiasts to indulge in the sport.

Basketball organizations such as Jnr NBA, Giants of Africa, and others demonstrate their commitment to the game by heavily investing in basketball infrastructure at the community level.

Moreover, many private individuals are contributing to the cause by donating and renovating basketball courts, paving the way for increased participation and fostering a stronger basketball culture.

These efforts serve as vital building blocks in encouraging and promoting the game among aspiring players and communities.

PARTICIPATION IN SCHOOLS (PRIMARY, SECONDARY,TERTIARY)

Further investigation reveals that a substantial number of secondary schools across the country lack functional basketball courts.

Developmentally, this significantly impacts the game in multiple aspects and the impact is undeniable. Special thanks go to Milo for their remarkable efforts in ensuring that there are competitive opportunities year after year.

The significance of high school sports and its role in talent discovery and development cannot be overstated.

Away from mass participation which Milo ensures, kids can be scouted and their developmental progress can be monitored and properly harnessed.

Due to the inadequate number of basketball facilities in secondary schools across the country, relying solely on school competitions for talent scouting becomes a challenging endeavor.

However, upon observing the recently concluded Milo basketball competition for secondary schools, one can easily notice that each participating school had a robust basketball program and access to well-equipped practice courts at all times.

At the tertiary level, which serves as the link between professionalism and talent development, it becomes evident that only a limited number of schools can boast of possessing proper indoor gyms and well-maintained outdoor courts.

Consequently, due to this deficiency, we face challenges in adequately developing and harnessing talents discovered at the secondary school level, leaving them unprepared for the professional stage.

It is no surprise that when young athletes from Nigeria pursue a basketball career abroad, they often return to high school to undergo proper and thorough development.

Furthermore, it is worth noting that no university in Nigeria can be definitively linked to the professional basketball league. Scratch that, is there even a functional league? While some may argue this for their pay masters, the reality remains unchanged.

Moreover, when considering the professional level the number of indoor arenas with the capacity to effectively commercialize basketball as a sport is limited.

At the professional level, having already surpassed the developmental stage, the presence of adequate basketball infrastructure becomes crucial for commercialization.

Properly harnessing the revenue potentials inherent in basketball requires the support of decent facilities that can cater to the needs of players, fans, and stakeholders.

Countries that have successfully reaped positive benefits from basketball evident in the thriving nature of their league structures, owe much of their success to the top-notch infrastructure they have in place.

The advantage of having such high-quality facilities has played a significant role in their basketball development and overall success in the sport.


“There’s also a big deficit in infrastructure in the country and basketball is not a surprise.

We should move away from government interference and run this like a business. Its high time we aggressively pursue private partnerships.

Now is a good time to invest in basketball as  a result of the surge in the recent use of social media”. Mudiaga Oyubu -Basketball Enthusiast


The NBA, Euroleague, and Eurobasket are renowned for their impressive sitting capacities, reaching tens of thousands and more.

In Africa, apart from the indoor arena in Kigali, Rwanda, which currently accommodates 10,000 persons, there is a lack of similar large-scale venues for hosting major basketball events.

basketball infrastructure

basketball infrastructure

In Nigeria, the state of basketball infrastructure is disheartening.

Most indoor centers, such as the Teslim Balogun Indoor arena can only accommodate 2000 persons and even worse the facilities are in a deplorable condition.

For instance, Unilag’s basketball court has poorly maintained flooring and unfortunately this is just one example among many others.

Kudos to Mo Heat Basketball for establishing a sufficiently decent structure that was even chosen to host the D’Tigress in their preparations for the ongoing Afrobasket competition.

Basketball Infrastructure
D’Tigress Members and Mo’Heat Executives

So obviously we don’t have a decent basketball infrastructure to drive mass participation at all levels(from grassroots to Pro level), to helps us identify talents, to helps us develop those talents, to also help us enjoy the massive revenue potentials in the sport, and this is at all levels of development.

What are The Key Issues Contributing to the Deplorable State of Basketball Infrastructure in Nigeria?


“Over the years we have not seen the commitments of leadership to ensure that we have a sustainable pipeline for basketball development.

There need to be some form of financial backing for any form of infrastructure to be developed.

The game needs to be repackaged and rebranded to give it the branding equity it deserves, for investors to come in”. Bemigho Awala -Communication Specialist


Gaining a clear understanding of the role each stakeholder plays in the improvement of basketball infrastructure could swiftly resolve this issue squarely.

It is widely acknowledged, especially in the social media space, that many individuals believe it is the responsibility of the apex body (NBBF) to provide basketball infrastructure nationwide.

Reality Check: This situation is not ideal, particularly when considering the core responsibilities of the federation.

Its main objectives are to promote the development of basketball in the country and govern the sport through policy-making, all aimed at fostering active participation.

The responsibility of providing sufficient courts in various communities lies primarily with the federation.

“In essence, the federation should take the lead in ensuring there are enough basketball courts across communities nationwide”.

Although they cannot achieve this alone, they should collaborate with local governments for land procurement, partner with local and international organizations, developmental agencies, and corporate entities for community court construction as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility projects.

The responsibility for driving this lies collectively with the local, state, and federal levels of government.

In government-owned/private schools, it becomes essential for the education and sports ministries at the state level to champion the importance of sporting infrastructure.

The federation can contribute by raising awareness about the significance of establishing these sporting facilities and infrastructure.

In the case of tertiary institutions, it is not the responsibility of the federation to provide indoor gyms; instead it falls under the purview of the school management.


“We need more private entities in sports and basketball to make maintenance which is a costly affair a regular thing”. Agbolabo Onasanya -Team Coordinator TopField Dark Knights


Nonetheless, the federation can actively participate in shaping policies to transform this idea into reality.

Collaborations with organizations such as NUGA, NIPOGA, and other relevant entities can be forged to form partnerships with schools and implement the essential measures, as mentioned earlier.

At the professional level, which is often either state-owned or private, it is essential to prioritize well-built gyms and arenas to facilitate the commercialization of the game.

To attract private sector partnerships and investments, opening up the league, revamping, and implementing necessary reforms are crucial steps.

This approach will not only enhance the overall quality of the league but also make it more appealing to potential sponsors and investors.

Professional basketball can then separated from amateur basketball just like in the US, where we have USA basketball and the NBA.

With this approach, the federation can redirect its focus towards the national teams of all age brackets, while the professional league can be led by experienced private technocrats who possess a commercial mindset and can pave the way for the development of basketball infrastructure.

This division of responsibilities will ensure that both aspects of the sport receive specialized attention and expertise, leading to overall growth and progress in the basketball landscape.

While it may appear ambitious, this project is indeed feasible if approached diligently and with careful execution.

The time to act is now, for the sake of basketball’s growth and the dreams of aspiring players across the nation. This is a clarion call, save our Basketball now!

“Special Thanks to Adedammy Adedotun for the thought process”

Image Credit: Mo Heat Basketball, Google

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