Highlighting girl child’s development through sports, institutional support

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By Dianabasi Effiong, News Agency of Nigeria (NAN)

 

Recent events involving Nigerian teams in world sports have reinforced the notion that the girl child can prevail in all endeavours if opportunities are provided.

The excellent performances of Super Falcons at the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup, Australia and New Zealand, and the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Championship in Rwanda, lend credence to this notion.

The performances of the female teams, on African soil and on the global stage, warmed the hearts of most Nigerians, especially the youth, transforming weariness into joy.

While those events lasted, the gloom experienced by some Nigerians over the removal of fuel subsidy and the attendant high cost of living, diminished.

D’Tigress’ 84-74 win over Senegal in the 2023 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Championship in, Kigali, Rwanda, made Nigeria the first team to win the coveted trophy four titles in a row.

According to FIBA.basketball, “D’Tigress’ sixth continental title comes exactly 20 years after they conquered their very first African crown in 2003 in Maputo, Mozambique.

Again, when the curtain finally closed on the ninth FIFA Women’s World Cup on Aug. 20, African teams, including Nigeria, depicted resilience and put up encouraging performances.

The Super Falcons, in their ninth world cup appearance, did not lose any match in the tough Group B that included Australia (co-hosts), Canada and the Republic of Ireland.

They eventually succumbed to a 2-4 loss on penalty kicks in the last 16 to the eventual runners-up, England, after tying goalless in regulation time.

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Interestingly, the Nigerian goalkeeper, Chiamaka Nnadozie was named Player of the Match against Canada by the FIFA Technical Study Group.

According to CAFONline.com, with 36 successful tackles made, Nigeria’s Christy Ucheibe ranked among the top five defenders at the tournament.

The FIFA President, Gianni Infantino, said the Women’s World Cup had been truly transformational, not only in Australia and New Zealand but all over the world.

He said the tournament’s success story had supported the decision for its enlargement from 24 to 32 teams.

“We need everyone. We need the UN agencies, who have been very helpful to us in this World Cup, participating with us.

“We need the governments, we need the institutions, to create dedicated spaces for women, and for women’s sport and women’s football in particular, of course.

“We need the partners, the sponsors to pay a fair price. We need the media,” he said.

Some organisations have already heeded the clarion call. For instance, the Olumide Oyedeji Foundation, an NGO, is promoting girl child development in sports in Nigeria.

Its founder, Olumide Oyedeji, said the foundation, had trained 40,000 young Nigerians, including girls, through its basketball camp since inception in 2001.

The Foundation opened its training camp from Aug. 21 to Aug. 25, for another batch of 400 kids trained on the rudiments of basketball at the Indoor Hall of the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos.

Oyedeji said the main objective of the exercise was to discover the next generation of basketball stars for Nigeria.

“This is the 22nd Edition. We have over 400 kids from over 10 cities in Nigeria, already,” he said.

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He said future leaders from other fields had emerged from the basketball camp, and that the Foundation would not relent in searching for more talents.

According to her, some of the members of the female national basketball team, D’Tigress passed through the camp and are doing very well in other fields.

She said Kaffy, a dancer and Rasheedat Sodiq, an Olympian and former Captain of the D’Tigress, and several other female celebrities passed through the camp 11 years ago.

“We have also seen lawyers, bankers and also pilots. We have also had over 100 junior and senior D’Tigers and D’Tigress players that have emerged from this camp,” he said.

There is no doubt that with institutional support, the girl child and, indeed, her male counterpart, can ‘breathe.’ Yes, they can! (NANFeatures)

***If used please credit the writer and News Agency of Nigeria.

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