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Masai Ujiri dreams NBA title with Raptors.speaks on Big-man, Top-50 camps - Nov 21, 2008


POSTED BY:
OLUSEGUN IKUESAN
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The Big-man and Top-50 camps have become an integral part of Nigerias basketball calendar, with kids looking forward to these camps every year with great passion.

The camps organized by Radaarhoops, but overseen by two former Nigerian international stars, Messai Ujiri and Godwin Owinje are fast gaining momentum as one of the best organized camps in Africa. In a chat with Hoops International Newspaper, the Assistant General Manager of The Toronto Raptors and chief director of these camps, Ujiri bears his mind on the journey so far. Happy reading:

The Top-50 camp and the Big-man camp

It all started about five years ago, we came up with a plan where we wanted to develop the kids in Nigeria and started the Top-50 in Zaria, we did the first edition in Zaria before shifting base to Lagos where we currently holds two camps every year with the Big-man camp in May and Top-50 in October and we are now in our fifth year and it has been great, we have sponsorship with Nestle Nigeria Plc, we have merchandize sponsorship from NIKE its been great support round the country for these events and we are very proud of what it has become and a lot of kids have developed to become good players for their clubs, schools and some have left for clubs in Europe while some are in various Universities in the United States of America.

Major Challenges

I think the major challenges we ever faced has to do with sponsorship for the Big-man camp are that we are always struggling with getting sponsors or how to pay bills of that one; organization has being much better the coaches in Nigeria who help out with these camps are doing a great job as we know, such people as Col. Sam Ahmedu (Rtd), Coaches Michael Akubor (Ahmadu Bello University), Emma Odah (Zuma Rocks Basketball Club), Peter Ahmedu and Adeka Dauda (Dodan Warriors Basketball Club) have been in control of things, running around to ensure that planning for the camps are usually hitch free but overall I am very happy with the turnout and the outcome that is the struggle. The main struggle or challenges have to do with sponsorship and organization.

Future expectations

Yes, we want to get bigger and I wish there are facilities where I can do like one hundred kids but for now I can only do fifty just because of the facility we have. The future of the camps is for other camps to come up for kids to be able to attend more camps and develop themselves with basic fundamentals and develop themselves as people and become useful human beings to themselves, their family and to the country. But above all the future is very bright in terms of all those things.

Message to young and aspiring players, Africa Basketball Federations and clubs

I think we have to keep working hard, also work on organization because it is not all the time that you need too much money to really achieve some goals. You dont need money to be organized; everybody thinks money is the root of everything, I think we have to get organized in order to attract sponsors into our programmes.

If there is a good system on ground sponsors would want to put their money into such so the first thing Africa federations should do is to get organized so that this sport can be taken to the highest level. I believe we can achieve it if we all desire it. Thats what we need to do get organized.

The clubs are doing what they think they can possibly do while the federations need to sit up. weve talked about this before they need to wake up and do a better job, hopefully if we continue to do our bit at the private level, do a lot of private function and events, a time will come when we may not need the federations maybe then they (  




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