The Minister of Youth and Sports Development, Mr Sunday Dare, has called for more private ownership and sponsor for basketball clubs to further grow the game in the country.
Dare made the appeal on Friday in Abuja when he hosted players and management of the victorious 2019 National Women Basketball League champions, Air Warriors of Abuja.
He expressed joy at the feat achieved by the team who were debutants in the league and pledged to work with the Nigeria Basketball Federation to support them.
“It is very exciting for me to receive the Air Warriors Basketball Club. When I watched them play in Lagos I saw a team with talents and skills and predicted that they will go a long way.
“I told them that if they win the cup, they should come to Abuja to visit me. They eventually won the cup.
“Two of the players have made the national team, so they are hugely a talented team.
“Their story is very compelling. It is their first time ever they are competing in the basketball league and they came out top unbeaten. No team has ever set that record. That is hugely commendable,” he said.
The minister said plans were underway to sponsor two players of the victorious team to the 2020 Tokyo Olympics to further expose them and engage them for the Olympic scholarship funds.
Earlier, the Chairman of Air Warrior Basketball Team, Alhaji Solademi AbudulMajid, thanked the minister for the gesture, saying it will go a long way to boost the player’s morale.
“It is not easy, but with determination and focus everything will be good, at a time I asked myself why am I doing this?
“We are Nigerian champions but we couldn’t go to continental and we have been fine but the minister’s visit has changed the narrative, so even if it is my last Kobo, I will put it on this team,” he said.
Air Warriors emerged champions of the 2019 Zenith Women Basketball League in their debut season.