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Ujiri urges government to create greater development opportunities for youths

By Christian Okpara
14 October 2021   |   2:06 am
Nigeria has the potential to compete favourably in the comity of nations, but that could only be possible if the government provides a condusive environment for the youths to hone their skills....

Masai Ujiri

Nigeria has the potential to compete favourably in the comity of nations, but that could only be possible if the government provides a condusive environment for the youths to hone their skills, Toronto Raptors’ Vice President, Masai Ujiri, has said.

Ujiri, who is in Nigeria on a basketball development mission, challenged various levels of government, the corporate world and individuals to help create meaningful opportunities for youths.

The NBA winning president is in Nigeria to unveil four basketball courts his pet project, Giant of Africa, built for schools and Lagos communities.

He said one good way the youths can be helped is by building and maintaining proper facilities for sports, while expressing his excitement that the Giants of Africa Foundation has been able to demonstrate how grassroots sports can be helped in Nigeria.

He said: “I have always spoken about the very poor condition of the National Stadium and I will continue to speak until something meaningful is done. We have enough space to develop world standard facilities that every Nigerian can be proud of.

“People have asked me why I have not brought the Toronto Raptors here to play but the answer is where will they play here? Is it in that sports hall?

“But rather than be complaining, we have decided to start in our own little way to help young Nigerians develop themselves. Precious Achiuwa and Bassey passed through our Giants of Africa camps just about five, six years ago but today they are in the NBA.

“Precious shot 17 points for Toronto in a pre-season game last night (Monday) and we are very excited because he is a product of this system.

“Every kid may not play in the NBA eventually; I never played but see where I am today. Look at Godwin Owinje (co-founder Giants of Africa) how basketball has helped his life to the fullest. The life training they get here can prepare them to become sports administrators, medical doctors, lecturers… All they need is encouragement.”

“We can give them that encouragement with the facilities we make available to communities. Let’s give kids in the communities and schools the basic facilities to train and grow.”

GOA unveiled the first of the courts in Nigeria at the Ijeshatedo Senior High School in Okota, Isolo, Lagos, the train moved on to the Oworonshoki Park on Tuesday, before berthing at Ilupeju Grammar School and the Community Centre, Warriors Court yesterday.

The next round will see courts built in places like Zaria, Owerri and Maiduguri, among other places. Ujiri, through the GOA, started last week by unveiling courts in Kenya and Tanzania. Two courts will be opened in Burkina Faso tomorrow, as the drive to build 100 courts across Africa continues.

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