‘Neglected’ D’Tigress to shun 2022 World Cup qualifier until demands are met
The Nigeria women’s basketball team, D’Tigress have expressed disappointment and anger with the way the team has been treated by the Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) and have threatened to boycott the 2022 FIBA World Cup qualifying tournament over the refusal of the NBBF and the Ministry of Youth and Sports Development to meet their demands.
In a video posted on YouTube, the African champions outlined the injustices that have been meted out to them by the NBBF.
The team recently won the FIBA AfroBasket title for the third time in a row and Victoria Macaulay, one of the team’s forwards, wondered why their historic feat has not warranted being invited to Aso Rock, even if it is only for the ceremonial presidential handshake.
“First we want to thank the Nigerian Embassy in Cameroon for celebrating us. We appreciate you more than you know. Other than that, we do not feel appreciated or celebrated after achieving a historical feat,” she said.
“In 2017 we won the AfroBasket championship and three days later we presented it to the father of the nation, President Muhammadu Buhari and his entire cabinet by the former (sports) minister, Hon Solomon Dalung, as customary with a handshake. We have defended our championship and brought back the Cup in 2019 and 2021 but it’s historical but no invitation has been extended to the team to visit Aso Rock or a Presidential handshake,” added the 6’4” forward.
Also, another member of the team, Promise Amukamara, said claims by the Musa Kida-led NBBF that the players are not been owed any monies are “far from the truth.”
“President of NBBF, Musa Kida said that the federation does not owe any players or officials allowances. This is far from the truth. The last time we checked, our allowances, bonuses, training grants and donations made by banks to players and officials and volunteers still have not been paid,” she said.
On her part, Ezinne Kalu felt the African champions have been marginalized and that all their demands have been left unattended to ever since their former general manager and team manager resigned under cloudy circumstances.
“Ever since our general manager and team manager resigned, we feel like we have been marginalised. I have not seen leadership like this,” she said. “This one never really showed up for camps or competitions to boost our morale. And we have significant concerns and issues that need to be addressed, which he always gave vague answers as if our concerns are not important to him.
“Musa Kida was not in Cameroon but somehow he showed up in Abuja to take pictures and to raise the trophy again for political gain,” she lamented.
D’Tigress forward-center Ify Ibekwe who was one of the team’s shining lights at both the Tokyo Olympics and the recently concluded FIBA AfroBasket in Cameroon went a step further by opening up on the debt supposedly owed players, officials and volunteers by the NBBF and the country’s sports ministry.
“We are being owed $73,180 by the NBBF, $24,000 by the Ministry of Sports for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics grant and $100,000 from donations from three banks in Nigeria,” Ibekwe stated.
Atonye Nyingifa explained that what has hindered D’Tigress’ chances of performing at international competitions, especially at the Tokyo Olympics where D’Tigress lost all their three group matches despite their good pre-Olympics form.
“There are a lot of things that can be done to increase our chances of success, starting with our travel, our flight, our team uniform, making sure they are standard, two practices a day and not to be able to access medical staff are some of the things we faced during the Olympics.
D’Tigress shooting guard, Sarah Ogoke, wondered why the team has not been to Nigeria for camping or major celebrations in recent years.
“Why has the team not been to Nigeria since 2019,” she queried, before adding. “We are wondering the same thing. We want to go back to Nigeria and for the last two years, we have not been to Nigeria for camps or any celebrations. It is customary that the team goes home for major competitions so that we can have more help.”