Oderah Quits Nigeria’s Basketball Team. This Is Why

Oderah Chidom

AfroBasket champion Oderah Chidom has quit the Nigeria Women’s Basketball Team, refering to a “lack of professionalism” from the Nigeria Basketball Federation.

The federation appointed Rena Wakama, a graduate of the University of Western Carolina and a former member of the national team, as the team’s new coach last month. Wakama replaced Otis Hughely, who left the year before.

After Wakama’s appointment, open tryouts for the women’s team were announced for July 8-11 in Chicago, Lagos, and Abuja.

Chidom stated in an interview that the open tryouts were the final straw for her following the upheavals in Nigerian basketball that resulted in the team’s withdrawal from the FIBA World Cup.

The 27-year-old Chidom stated,

“The trigger for me was seeing an Instagram post of open tryouts in three different locations three weeks before Afrobasket”

“I will not be attending. I don’t think that’s professional at all. I consider myself a professional. And I don’t think it’s okay for me to pay my way to try out for something when I think I have a resume that speaks for itself.

“I have standards of how I conduct business at the professional level, and Nigeria continues to disappoint me.

“This is a national team. Generally what you do is you invite a group of professionals and you compete in a camp and then the 12 best at that camp get to compete on whatever team and that’s mostly how a national team is conducted.

“I was with my family when I got the message and I just was in shock. Playing for the national team is something that my family is proud of, that I am proud of as it holds a lot of weight for me, and the way that they conduct themselves is taking all of that away from us. It’s just so disheartening.

“I have been blessed to play with a lot of teams where I have seen professionalism from management, and I don’t see those same qualities within our own federation. So to continuously keep coming back to to a federation that I feel does not value me is not worth it.

“I am officially done with national team. I cannot continue to have this added stress in my life. As a team, we try to choose our words very carefully so we do not offend anyone on the federation.

“But personally, I’m done and my purpose of doing this is to shed light on the lack of professionalism within the federation and that it needs to change.

“It’s really difficult to not have any sense of communication, not have any sense of professionalism. All of our information comes from Twitter and social media.

“We never know what’s going on. We ask a lot of questions about just simple things of when camp is, where it will be held, who are the coaches, and we get responses like ‘please be patient’.

“Everything that we do is super last minute. The level of professionalism is just not up to par with the constant production that we produce.”

Many Nigerian women players were said to be boycotting the team and AfroBasket during this time. Chidom, nonetheless, says this isn’t true, and she expect them continue playing.

“We’re not boycotting anything. We weren’t even been invited. No-one’s communicating with us at all. So, it’s frustrating. Of course, I would love to continue to play for something that’s bigger than myself and represent my country,” Chidom added.

“That means so much to me and my family. But the current federation, I just cannot continue to agree with the way they do business.

“A lot of us have all sent the post around. And pretty much all of us are disappointed and upset with the lack of communication.

“I genuinely don’t know what the other girls are intending to do, but I know that there’s a general sense of frustration and disappointment throughout the entire team, considering that no-one has spoken to us.”

However, ESPN learned from NBBF President Musa Kida that open tryouts for the national team are not new. As per him, they did that in 2017 and they raised a team that proceeded to win the AfroBasket in 2019.

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He stated, “They are trying to make the best decisions for Nigerian basketball, even though not everyone will like the idea.”We have a new coach and we want to rebuild the team”, he added.

“Of course we would like to see all the players show up, but we can’t force any one to do so, and it is up to each player to make the decision that is best for them.”

D’Tigress is aiming for a record-breaking fourth place finish in Rwanda after winning three AfroBasket titles in a row.

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