Former DTigers coach, Ayo Bakare, last week resigned as Technical Director of the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF). The man, who led Nigerias men national team to their first ever Olympic Games appearance, shared his views on the countrys basketball.
Is it true that a rift between you and the NBBF made you resign as Technical Director of the federation?
Beside God and my family, Nigerian basketball takes precedence over my personal business. I am passionate about it and I cannot allow anything that will disturb Nigerian basketball to happen. Its a house I have contributed in building for over 25 years and I will definitely not be part of its damage. If you hear from me that there is no rancour, then you can be assured that there is none. If you hear from another source that there is fighting, that I am dissatisfied, that I am being owed, disregard it. My salary is very cheap; I have never earned a salary with the NBBF. It is an amicable situation. Anybody can tell you they know the cause of my leaving. Irresponsible communication is the bane of our basketball. Its my personal commitments that do not allow me to continue in this position. Lets just admit that its not a job I am equipped to do at this time.
Was it an easy decision for you to make?
Would it be easy divorcing a wife after 25 years or more of marriage? That’s how it is.
Have you recommended anybody to take over from you as Technical Adviser?
I am not a politician, so I have not been schooled well in the art of being a godfather. I don’t have any candidate at this moment.
Would you come back to the federation again if you are called upon to do so?
I have served for 25 years and I am willing to serve 25 more years in different roles. I have passed through several presidents of the NBBF. I have been a board member, I have been a team owner, I have been a coach, I have served and I will continue to serve. The role may be different; I may no longer be able to play a role of the Technical Director or coach, I may not be available to even watch games but you don’t have a lifetime passion and just let it go away because of an incident. No incident is strong enough to kill such a passion. So, nothing is wrong. My mind would definitely wander to my passion; it may be by building a stadium or encouraging people to invest in the game. I may analyse games as well; the list of things I could do for basketball is endless. I have always been very willing to progress with basketball.
Is it true that you resigned as Technical Director because you want to return again as national team coach?
The issue of national team coach has never been in question and I think that has been adequately answered by the federation. Even the guidelines of the National Sports Commission allow me to be Technical Director and coach of the national team. The guidelines prefer that the Technical Director coaches the national team. I don’t have to leave the position of Technical Director, so that I can come back as national coach. Coaching Nigeria for several years was voluntary. I have never requested, applied, canvassed for or tried to lobby in any other way to coach any team in Nigeria.
What would be the fate of your club, Comets?
Right now, I am enjoying what they call terminal leave in the ministry. I am not worrying my head about what I will do next. I don’t want to evade your question but for the first time in so many years, the weight of what happens in Nigerian basketball has been lifted off my shoulders. I don’t have to worry about what happens next. Its a relief. I was never president of the federation but its a huge burden I have carried for a very long time. That has been lifted and right now I am just focused on enjoying my family; I will be shuttling between Miami and San Antonio with my son to watch NBA games. That will enrich my own knowledge of the game and make me a better analyst of basketball. Whether I will own or coach Comets again or invest in a club, I have not thought about that right now. But I will always be a basketball stakeholder.
How do you think your exit would affect the game in Nigeria?
My exit will mean absolutely no decline for Nigerian basketball. Nigerian basketball has moved to a certain level where my exit or any other persons can no longer pull us back. We’ve gone beyond that stage. I don’t have the title of Technical Adviser but if you need my support, I will always be ready. I am still here, just that I no longer play an active role as Technical Director.
What were the challenges you faced in over 25 years of service to basketball in Nigeria?
Let me talk about the things we were able to achieve; everything I have done has not been singular. Sometimes I appear in front but we shouldn’t be under any illusion that any milestone was single-handedly achieved. If it was winning titles, it had to do with whoever was in the federation at that time and the players. We were able to go to the Olympics for the first time (London 2012) and that drew attention to us as a world superpower in basketball. We were able to go to the World Championships for the first time in 1998; we also qualified the female team for the Olympics. We were able to move from not winning medals in Africa to being potential gold medalists during continental tournaments. We have moved forward to be ranked number 17, now 18 in the world. No other sport in Nigeria is ranked anywhere close worldwide to this. We have made giant strides wherever possible but there have been challenges. Most of them hinge around finance, perception surrounding the sport, and the amount of money available for the programmes. Ideas have not been the problem; finance has been the biggest singular challenge we’ve had. We have also had turbulence in the federation practically for the last 16 years. That turbulence has come around all the time about our being polarised at every election. It has been a recurring decimal in basketball more than any other sport. Unfortunately, basketball is made up of intellectual people. Yes, that is the unfortunate curse on basketball. Where you have people that are intellectual, knowledge is sometimes dangerous. That is why some wealthy people make sure others don’t get knowledge because once they do, you don’t have the hold on them anymore. Basketballs curse is that we are all very knowledgeable and intellectual. What we failed to realise in the last 16 years was that we scared away sponsors and investors; we presented ourselves as a divided house, we did things that would ultimately satisfy our personal egos and positions but we didn’t do anything to further the cause of basketball.
How can we solve this intellectual problem?
I owe a bigger responsibility to keep basketball intact. I understand that telling you my grievances, if there were any, would give me satisfaction but it will tear down the house of basketball. I want to urge that you (media) help us to build the house of basketball. Every one of us in this game would fade away; the people who were there when I started are no longer there. Some have passed on, some are alive but totally disinterested and of no relevance to the game anymore. But some of the effect of what they did is enduring till this day. The media has contributed a lot in tearing down that house. It has been a very big problem in the last 16 years. Anything negative that you report about basketball does not hurt Tijjani Umar (NBBF president) personally, does not hurt me personally, does not hurt Sam Amedu personally or the other principal actors. But it damages the sport.
We’ve had Zenith Bank and DStv as sponsors since Buba Gyang was president. Have they added any more sponsors?
No. Its not the fault of the federation per se but the terrain has been very difficult to navigate. The obvious division in our ranks has been difficult for any serious sponsor to overcome. That is why we are stuck with those two. Not that the federation is not making any serious efforts but internally we are at war nearly all the time in the last 16 years. No one wants to sheathe their swords. And we are always the losers. The media should stop fueling that; they should listen to both sides of every conflict. As a private sector person I have spoken to a lot of people including banks MD’s but they don’t want to touch basketball because of what comes back from it. Believe me; we’ve made basketball look like a pariah, like a leper to corporate sponsors, who have no interest in sports.
What is your opinion about the men’s league?
Our entire premier league is N50m strong; its ridiculous. That is peanuts. The most marketable item we have is worth just N50m. Each club in that league needs that N50m to meet international standard. Each team needs between N50m to N100m to be able to run effectively; to be able to bring in foreign players. Basketball is too volatile and nobody wants their corporate image involved in something like that. The media can change things with positive reporting. Of course, we too need to talk to ourselves about the need to be less mischievous. The MD of a bank, we played basketball together but he has not put down one Nair for basketball. What is the reason? What he reads and watches on TV scares him away from the game.
After over 25 years involvement in various capacities of Nigerian basketball, when would you say was your best and worst moments especially as a coach?
There were too many special moments to single out a particular one as best. Of course there were ups and downs but its difficult to narrow 25 years of service to one event. I don’t dwell on bad moments; I learn from them and move on.
After leading Nigeria’s men team to a historic first ever appearance at the Olympics in 2012, you suffered a record defeat to the US. How did you feel while on the lines?
Were you happy? I felt like every Nigerian. US beat us by a record margin, so what should Lithuania do? They were number four in the world but they were beaten by an ordinary African country (Nigeria) at the Olympics qualifiers? Should they commit suicide? What about Greece? That’s the game for you.
Football Legend, Diego Maradona Dies At 60 Following Heart Attack
Argentina and Napoli legend, Diego Maradona has passed away at the age of 60 following a heart attack.
The Gimnasia coach had been hospitalised at the start of November, days after celebrating the landmark birthday, after complaining of low spirits and fatigue.
Recall that some weeks ago, it was reported that the football legend had a blood clot on the brain, which doctors later revealed was operated on successfully.
Two weeks after being discharged from the hospital and recovering at home, he reportedly suffered a cardiac arrest on Wednesday morning.
The Argentine national team’s official Twitter account confirmed the news on Wednesday.
The Contribution of Sports Betting to the Economy of Nigeria
Most of us have grown up with gambling lore that left us petrified to our core. Gambling ruins lives, gives rise to financial and legal problems.
This is all that we have grown up learning. However, this is only partly true and must not be taken too seriously. Sure, gambling has its disadvantages and evils.
However, the activity, in its entirety, is not addictive. It is what humans make out of it. Human beings give up self-control and spiral into a bottomless pit of despair due to that.
Gambling, when indulged in appropriately, does no harm. In fact, it is one of the biggest industries and contributes significantly to the global economy.
The moot point of this article is to have a look at the betting industry of Nigeria. While we do that, we shall also examine how much the industry contributes to the economy of the nation.
Therefore, let us now have a look at the industry and venture a few important points throughout
How Does the Betting Industry of Nigeria Look Like?
The gambling industry of Nigeria resides in the areas of gray. One cannot look at it in either black or white.
Gambling activities are considered illegal in Nigeria, with the exception of a few. And betting on sports happens to be one of those exceptions.
Online gambling in Nigeria is allowed only on offshore-owned and operated casinos. Locally operated casinos are not allowed to function in the land.
Now speaking of betting, one must note that the betting industry happens to be a key player in Nigeria’s economy. There are over fifty functional and legal betting sites in Nigeria.
As we mentioned before, betting is entirely legal, unlike online gambling. All those who want to gamble on sites like Usafriendlypokersites.com can do so with the use of VPNs.
Nigerians are incredibly passionate as a people about their sports. That is why the idea of making money by betting on their favorite sports has a lot of appeal.
With about 200 million people in the country, the betting industry has found a solid footing in the market. It has been estimated that over the last few decades, Nigeria has grown to become the second-largest betting market in South Africa.
Over 60 million people find entertainment through online betting sites in South Africa. Therefore, one can understand, going by the statistics that Nigeria has evolved over the last few years when it comes to betting.
Reasons for this Massive Growth in the Popularity of Online Betting:
One of the primary reasons for this massive popularity in online betting is the increase in technological innovations.
Nigeria, over the past few years, has seen technological expansion and super-fast connectivity. Almost everyone has access to smartphones now.
This is what makes it so easy for people of every age group to bet online. The constraints that the nation had in technology and connectivity are no longer an issue.
It is estimated that in the next few years, the country shall see more such innovations and expansion. This will, therefore, act further as a catalyst to the growth of the online betting industry.
The Government is Now Tightening the Noose around Online Betting to Raise Revenue:
As we already mentioned a few times before that Nigeria had strict laws related to online gambling.
The government also did not pay much attention to the betting industry. However, things have changed now and shall change further down the line.
The Nigerian government is now formulating some strict laws so that it could pull the revenue from betting into the coffers.
This is also one of the most significant reasons for the growth in Nigeria’s economy. Online betting is a lucrative industry, and we can already deduce that from we discussed.
With the government paying more attention to the industry, crime rates can be reduced, and better revenue can be raised.
If anything, the involvement of the Nigerian government shall only serve as a fresh change. Plus, with a better structure in the betting industry, more people can find jobs and livelihood.
Wrapping It Up:
We can see how the online betting industry of Nigeria has become one of the chief contributors
to its economy.
Sporty.com – The Ultimate App For Sports Fans!
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Sporty.com offers a lot of features that can be leveraged by those who are sports enthusiasts. Here are the standout features of the newly launched application that has access to the world’s best sports content.
- Latest Sports News (SportyNews)
Get access to all the hot articles and video news in the world of sport at the tip of your fingers through Sporty. This news can be completely customized as per one’s liking. Pick your favourite sports, leagues and teams, all in one place, to be the first to know everything or just pick the option of “Popular” news.
- Live Scores and Exclusive Videos (SportyTV)
Sporty.com provides live scores of all the sports around the world, including an additional choice where one can filter out scores of just their favourites, whether it would be league scores or team scores.
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Analyze every game in detail through this feature on Sporty. Get the most comprehensive data on any match through the app with match facts, team line-ups, minute-by-minute analysis and tracking, competition trees, live league tables and formations.
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