Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The Bayelsa State female basketball team has beaten their counterparts from Delta to emerge winners in the 7th edition of the 2019 annual Women Elite Empowerment Initiative (WESIE) tournament.
During the finals of the 10-team championship drawn from all parts of the country, at the indoor hall of Sampson Siasia stadium, Bayelsa out-played the Delta team, defeating them 29-17.
The championship which was organised by WESIE in collaboration with the Bayelsa State Sports Council which was represented by Mr Daniel Igali, two-time Olympics champion and Commissioner for sports in Bayelsa, saw the girls show exceptional brilliance during the game.
The event also witnessed Ekiti placing third while Cross River came fourth during the well-attended tournament.
Other states which took part in the all-girls championship were Katsina, Edo, Rivers, Imo, Anambra and Ebonyi.
Founder and Director, WESIE, Funke Adeniji, said the programme was part of the organisation’s objectives to empower women in the country.
“We focus predominantly on females because we do not think that women have enough opportunities to play sports. This is a platform for them to showcase their talent, develop themselves and have fun.
“We also use the opportunity to raise health awareness with our medical team on ground and screening for some chronic diseases.
“Though our focus is not on international scouts, but on local opportunities or talents, its an opportunity to compete in real game situations. But we have a number of scouts here including Peter Ahmedu, national team coach and others. They came from across the country.
” In terms of collaboration with the government, this is a sports council, so we cannot come here without them. There have been a few challenges, but we always like to come here because of that partnership as we have done in Imo, Enugu, Cross River, Lagos.
“Sports can be a tool to change communities, improve their wellbeing and there are cash prizes for them too” she said.
In his comments the Assistant National Coach, D’ Tigress and Head Coach Dolphins Female Basketball team, Lagos, Peter Ahmedu, expressed delight at the level of competitiveness in the tournament.
” We give kudos to those who have the hearts to give back to the community, especially to the girl child. The girl child has been pushed to the backdoor. So, its impressive.
“We beg the sponsors to come out and assist so in the next five years, there will be great improvement. Mali is doing well, Senegal has, Rwanda has come up with one. So, in Nigeria, we also need a big arena.
“The future of female basketball ball in the country still looks dim in the sense that there are not many competitions. The one for this year, which is 25, is the highest we have had in about 10 years” he said.
Also speaking, Igali said at the junior level the basketball team in the state had done well, stressing that the level of competitiveness was exciting.
” This is the future of basketball and WESIE is doing a great job. The athletes are doing well. This is exciting , so the level of competitiveness is high. Let me also thank the Bayelsa government for the help they rendered” the commissioner said.