Chairperson of the board of the Lagos State Basketball Association (LSBBA), Barbara Harper says the vision of the board she leads “is to make Lagos State the hub for churning out great professional basketballers”.
Ms. Harper said this at the inaugural Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the LSBBA held at the Molade Okoya-Thomas Indoor Sports Hall at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos on Friday.
The AGM was called by the three-month-old board to unveil their programme of activities for the year and to engage in “robust engagement on all issues related to the game” with stakeholders.
In attendance was the Executive Chairman of the Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr. Kweku Tandoh and other major stakeholders of the sport including basketball veterans, sports administrators, school sports federation and media practitioners.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Tandoh praised the vision of the current board of the LSBBA and lauded the idea of the AGM – the first of its kind in the State – as “commendable”. He expressed confidence in the ability of the board to execute their vision which he said would create “a great future for basketball in Lagos State”.
“I have no doubt in my mind that this board will definitely deliver on the mandate that has been given to it,” Dr. Tandoh said.
“And this idea of having an AGM involving all stakeholders of basketball in Lagos State to come together, to get their views and opinions and get their buy-in to their own masterplan I think it is a commendable idea and it tells us that indeed they are moving in the right direction.
“Very soon I’m sure by the time they reveal programmes and activities for the year which I know is pivoted upon grassroots basketball development in Lagos State we’d be sure to have a great future for basketball in Lagos State.”
Ms. Harper added: “Our vision aligns with the Lagos State vision and what our vision is, to make Lagos State the hub for churning out great professional basketballers.”
The grassroots-centered initiatives outlined by the LSBBA to help actualize their vision include organizing the flagship Lagos City Basketball League for Clubs across the State as well as organizing basketball competitions across all local governments.
Other plans include training and re-training State coaches, referees and technical officials through formal and structured certification courses and exchange programmes as well as ensuring the availability of basketball courts throughout the State.
Ensuring the ubiquity of basketball courts is vital in getting more people involved in the game and forms an integral part of the LSBBA vision of “rebranding [and] restructuring” basketball in Lagos State “to the next level” as explained by Vice Chairman of the LSBBA former D’Tigers Captain and ex-NBA Superstar Olumide Oyedeji.
“We are just going to come out with a new brand to take basketball in Lagos State to the next level,” Oyedeji explains.
“When we talk about next level we talking about rebranding, restructuring and [to] make sure that basketball is available within [every] 2-3 kilometers there’s a basketball court or a basketball is available either on the court or on the street to promote the popularity [of the sport] and to take these young boys and girls off the street,” the former Seattle Supersonic Centre said.
The move to rebrand and restructure basketball in Lagos State was aptly demonstrated by a colourful brand-new logo unveiled by the Dr. Tandoh and the entire board of the LSSBA.
The new logo incorporates the colours of Lagos State and according to Ms. Harper, the sole woman on the six-person LSBBA board, was designed with a bit of “female touch” to be gender friendly and represents the development and diversity of the state and the dynamism of the board.
“When we were inaugurated in December 2018 we were going to have this AGM, we needed to write letters to stakeholders to sponsors and when we looked at the logo we were not too happy with that logo because I’m sure that it was created many, many years ago,” Ms. Harper said.
“So we decided that as a new board being dynamic as we are and of course I being a female, we need to put a female touch and make sure that the new logo is gender friendly and this symbolizes growth. It has the Lagos State colours, it symbolizes development and diversity.”
The LSBBA says the successful execution of its vision and plans would make Lagos a conveyor belt for an unending stream of basketball talent and ensure that athletes affiliated with Lagos constitute the bulk of national team players and in addition guarantee the dominance of LSSBA affiliated clubs and players in national, Continental and FIBA competitions.
The LSBBA hopes to position Lagos State as the destination of choice for local and foreign investors interested in basketball as well as the preferred venue for hosting International Competitions.
Achieving these lofty and ambitious ideals would require considerable investment and although Ms. Harper who once chaired the First Bank Sports Council says her board met “zero budget in our coffers”, she hopes that by engaging with stakeholders at the AGM and showcasing the various programmes they have in store, prospective sponsors would see the value to be gained by investing in the sport and not just for giving back to society but because they stand to earn significant returns on investment.
“That is one of the reason why we are showcasing what we intend to do,” Ms. Harper said about the need to attract sponsors.
“We’ve gone through our roadmap for the year and this indicates that we have a lot of programmes that we need to run this year. Like I said earlier, we have met zero budget in our coffers so everything is going to be sponsored we are going to have to seek sponsorship and that’s what we are going to be working on using our network and trying to get people to invest in the sport.
“Investing in sports apart from the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) aspect, does have Return On Investment.”
Oyedeji adds: “See, a journey of a thousand miles starts with a step; we are just taking little baby steps right now. Basketball is going to be taken to all levels of the local governments from primary to secondary to tertiary institution. [We will] bring life back to the game of basketball in our state.”