Former Nigerian NBA star boosts human capacity with new basketball academy
Determined to create the needed capacity development for Nigerian youths in the area of sports and scholarship, Obinna Ekezie, a former professional basketball star in the United States of America has launched Africa’s first basketball academy in Lagos.
The academy known as the Organised Basketball Network (OBN) has a state of the facility with a capacity to cater for about 700 spectators.
Obinna Ekezie, founder, OBN while speaking in Lagos, said the biggest challenge in Nigeria when it comes to basketball development and support is infrastructure, adding that the setting up of the academy is a huge leap for the country as it will serve as a center to profile and groom young talents from the age of 6 to 18, which is actually very critical.
Ekezie stated that as someone who has enjoyed both professional and academic success in life, he sees the academy as an avenue to prepare young aspiring basketball players to earn a scholarship into one of the 300 division one schools in America.
According to him, our purpose is to develop these children to make sure that they can compete with the rest of the world in terms of their talents, get them to earn a scholarship and quality education which they can fall back on after their playing careers.
The former NBA star further stated that the academy which will be officially opened on the 5th of April will operate in partnership with schools around Lagos.
“We are going to be partnering with multiple schools around the area to develop the basketball talents, also set up a sustainable befitting high school or secondary school basketball league and also encourage schools management to build their own facility as this will be a huge opportunity for the development of basketball in Nigeria.
He observes that Nigeria produced nine NBA players last year, the highest in the world aside from the United States, adding that many Nigerian players have made the NBA most of the time with little or no development here in Nigeria.
Ekezie noted that the academy plans to use technology to drive the growth and knowledge of basketball not only in Nigeria, but across Africa.
He opines that the concept behind the academy is not just only to train children between the ages of 6 to18 on the essential about the game of basketball, but about ensuring they imbibe the values of teamwork, tolerance, perseverance and courage to succeed in their chosen endeavours.