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Discrimination, poor welfare bane of basketball, says Ugboaja

Dodan Warriors’ Romaric Quenum (right) battles Union Bank’s Godfrey Moses during their DStv Premier Basketball League Final Eight playoff at the National Stadium, Lagos.

Dodan Warriors’ Romaric Quenum (right) battles Union Bank’s Godfrey Moses during their DStv Premier Basketball League Final Eight playoff at the National Stadium, Lagos.

Newly elected president of Nigeria Basketball Players Association (BAPAN), Ejike Ugboaja, believes the local league players have not been finding it easy to break into the national team over the years because they face discrimination from national team coaches and the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF).

Another problem dogging the local players is poor welfare, said Ugboaja who promised to tackle these issues as the head of the players’ body.

Speaking in Lagos yesterday, Ugboaja said he would work to enhance the players’ welfare and get insurance policies for all domestic league stars, noting that the era of using domestic basketball players to qualify for major international championships and dump them for their foreign counterparts for the competition proper was over.

In other climes, he said, basketball leagues get good sponsorship deals from numerous companies due to the exposure and assistance given to the players to raise the standard of their game.

He said: “Providing good welfare and insurance policies for the players would give them enough motivation to perform creditably in the league. We will also give priority to education… this implies that every player that intends to play in the league must be a graduate. Education is important because it will give the player something to fall back on retirement or when he gets injured.

“Assisting former players is also our priority. Over the years domestic players have not been able to play for the national team because of discrimination and politics, which have deprived Nigeria of the services of good players in the international arena. We will work hard to stop this anomalies.”

At the players’ union polls held on Monday, Ugboaja, a former NBA star drafted from Union Bank Basketball Club of Lagos, beat former president of the association, Umar Bala and Tijani Idris, with 25 votes to emerge president of BAPAN.

Ugboaja was a member of the D’Tigers team to the London 2012 Olympics Games and the side that qualified Nigeria for the 2015 All Africa Games and Afrobasket Nations Cup.

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