The Nigerian women’s basketball team, D’Tigress players barely a month after winning a third AfroBasket title in a row are crying out over owed allowances and officials’ incompetence.
In a video posted on D’Tigress’s Instagram page, teammates shared their experiences. Ify Ibekwe revealed that they are being owed over N87m in bonuses, allowances and donations from corporate bodies.
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“We are owed $73,118 FROM the NBBF (Nigeria Basketball Federation), $24,000 from the ministry from the Tokyo grant and $100 000 from donations from three banks in Nigeria,” Ibekwe said in the video.
Promise Amukamara, another player called out the NBBF president Musa Kida, over the unpaid wages.
“President of NBBF Mr Kida said that the federation is not owing any players, officials or vendors; this is far from the truth,” Amukamara said.
“The last time we check, our allowances, stipends, bonuses, training grounds and donations made by banks for players, officials and volunteers still have not been paid.”
In the video, one of the players, Adaora Elonu said if their demands are not met, that no player would report for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers in February 2022.
“Our demands, all money owed to players, officials and vendors. Adequate travel to competitions and team managers for all team functions,” Elonu said.
“If all these demands are not met, with all due respect to the presidency, The NBBF and the Ministry, all the D’Tigresss players will not be reporting to FIFA World Cup tournament in 2022 in February; we are one United voice.”
They also complained that they were not being treated right by NBBF and the ministry.
“First, we want to say thank you to the Nigerian embassy in Cameroon for appreciating you more than you know. Other than that, we do not feel appreciated or celebrated after achieving these historic feats,” Victoria Macaulay said.
Ezinne Kalu said the NBBF is used to using them to score political points and not being effective in their support for the team during tournaments.
They revealed that they are yet to be invited back to the Aso Rock since 2017 where they got a presidential handshake from President Muhammadu Buhari despite winning two more titles after 2017.
Ezinne Kalu expressed frustration in how the NBBF only know how to use the D’Tigress to score political points but remain ineffective in supporting the team during tournaments.
“We feel like we are being marginalised. Our senior leadership, like our former president, never really showed up for camps, competitions to boost our morale,” Kalu said.
“And when we have significant concerns and issues that need to be addressed when he does show up, he gives vague answers, as if our concerns aren’t important to him.
“But when we win, they magically show up for photo ops and celebrations to use for political gain. Musa Kida was not in Cameroon but somehow he showed up in Abuja to take pictures and lift the trophy again for political gain.”
Oderah Chidom and Atonye Nyingifa blamed their poor performance at the 2021 Tokyo Olympics on the lack of proper planning by the NBBF.
“We didn’t get the final roaster until the day before the flight; our first team practice was in Tokyo, the day before the first game,” Chidom said.
“There is a lot of things that could have been handled differently to increase our chances of success; starting with our travel, there was a 36-hour flight.
“Our team gear and uniform, making sure there are of standard. Two practices a day, not being able to access medical staff at certain times during the Olympics.” Nyingifa also said.
Sarah Ogokealso spoke, raising concerns over why the D’Tigress have not been in Nigeria since 2019.
“Why hasn’t the team been to Nigeria since 2019? We are wondering the same thing,” Ogoke said.
“As D’Tigress players, we want to back to Nigeria. We don’t understand why we have not been to the country for the last two years for camp, or for any celebration.
“It’s customary that the team is to go home before major competitions so that we can have morale.”
In September, the D’Tigress won all their games to win the AfroBasket title in Cameroon, a third triumph in the competition for a third time in a row.