Masai Ujiri demands bigger opportunities for Nigerian youths

Pius Ayinor

The President of Toronto Raptors and Giants of Africa, Masai Ujiri has challenged the various levels of government in Nigeria, the corporate world and individuals to help create meaningful opportunities for young Nigerians.

Masai who is in Nigeria to unveil four basketball courts he built for schools and communities in the country said on Tuesday that one good way the youths can be helped is by building and maintaining proper facilities for sports. The Toronto Raptors Vice Chairman who has consistently decried the state of the National Stadium in Lagos said he is joyful that he and his team in the Giants of Africa Foundation have been able to demonstrate how grassroots sports can be helped in Nigeria.

He said, “I have always spoken about the very poor condition of the National Stadium and I will continue to speak until something meaningful is done. We have enough space to develop world standard facilities that every Nigerian can be proud of.

“People have asked me why have I not brought the Toronto Raptors here to play but the answer is where will they play here? Is it in that sports hall?

“But rather than be complaining we have decided to start in our own little way to help young Nigerians develop themselves. Precious Achiuwa and Bassey passed through our Giants of Africa camps just about five, six years ago but today they are in the NBA. Precious shot 17 points for Toronto in a pre-season game last night (Monday) and we are very excited because he is a product of this system.

“Every kid may not play in the NBA eventually; I never played but see where I am today. Look at Godwin Owinje (co-founder Giants of Africa) how basketball has helped his life to the fullest. The life training they get here can prepare them to become sports administrators, medical doctors, lecturers. All they need is encouragement.

“We can give them that encouragement with the facilities we make available to communities. Let’s give kids in the communities and schools the basic facilities to train and grow.”

GOA unveiled the first of the courts in Nigeria at the Ijeshatedo Senior High School in Okota, Isolo, Lagos and the train moved on to the Oworonshoki Park on Tuesday. The Wednesday events are billed for Ilupeju Grammar School and the Community Centre, Warriors Court. The next round will see courts built in places like Zaria, Owerri and Maiduguri amongst other places.

Masai through the GOA started last week by unveiling courts in Kenya and Tanzania. Two courts will be opened in Burkina Faso on Friday before this phase rounds off in Cote d’Voire as the drive to build 100 courts across Africa continues.