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Young basketballers have been advised by stakeholders to pursue educational knowledge to aid their sporting careers.

This was the core message of the DA-F basketball programme in which over 200 primary and secondary school students participated. Participants were presented with various educational materials to prepare them for the new academic session.

The convener of the programme, Fubara Oyanabo, said the annual event was geared towards boosting the students’ interest in learning. He said hosting the back-to-school event is now a tradition for them at the beginning of every academic session.

“First is to prioritise education and tell the kids how important education is,” Oyanabo, who is the national coach of the Nigeria U-16 basketball team, said. “Basketball and football are two different things. You can have a player from Nigeria go sign for a European club. But it is not really that easy in basketball. All over the world, it is tied to school and education.”

He said more than 20 kids from the programme that have travelled abroad have all gone to school. It was through the school that they were picked to play in the NBA and other elite basketball leagues. He said the day’s event is to encourage kids with educational materials like books, mathematical sets, and so on. This is to ease the burden on their parents, Oyanabo added as he harped on the importance of adding a skill to education for sportsmen to fall back at the end of their careers.

“At every nook and cranny that kids participate in sport, they should be made to know the importance of education. Like I told the kids today, you can play to some certain age. After that, what next would you fall back to? And I will advise the kids that for now they should first have the basic which is the senior secondary school. If their parents cannot really take them to the next level, at least they can learn one trade and sponsor themselves”.

According to him, the academic progress of every child is evaluated before they are allowed to play basketball. President of Nigeria Basketball Federation NBBF, Musa Kida, who was represented by the secretary of Rivers State Basketball Association, Ngozi Fubara, charged the students to be good ambassadors of the DA-F basketball programme.

“It is always necessary to present ourselves as good ambassadors of our homes, country, and DA-F,” she said. “Don’t be among the ones who think sports do not give room for education. It is a profession you can handle as responsible people starting from a young age like this while you end up becoming important personalities in our society.”

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