Power Forward, a youth development initiative launched in 2013 by the ExxonMobil Foundation, the NBA and Africare, uses basketball to teach health literacy, including malaria prevention and personal hygiene, and life skills, such as leadership, respect and responsibility, to students in 30 secondary schools in Abuja.
This initiative, in its seventh year had two-time NBA all-star Victor Oladipo and 2015 NBA Champion Festus Ezeli headlined the first virtual Power Forward Huddle which livestreamed on NBA Africa YouTube on Nov. 19.
The event, hosted by TV and radio host Jimmie Akinsola, celebrated seven years of the Power Forward program for youth ages 14 and under and coaches from 30 schools in Abuja.
The one-hour show, celebrating the program’s impact in Abuja, also featured representatives of the program partners – ExxonMobil Director of Community Investment and Strategy, Jim Jones; NBA Africa CEO, Victor Williams; and Africare President and CEO, Robert Mallett; – as well as testimonials from Power Forward students. The organisers also thanked FCT Abuja Secondary Education Board and Nigerian Basketball Federation for their support of the initiative.
Victor Oladipo and Festus Ezeli spoke about the role basketball played in their lives, the values of the game and credited their Nigerian upbringing for the successes on and off the court.
Festus Ezeli recalled his visit to Nigeria last year, after a decade and a half abroad, when he also took part in the sixth Power Forward Finals at the National Stadium in Abuja.
“I had been gone for 15 years. I left my home, I left my family, it was just me when I came to America. And coming back after all this time, a lot of inches taller, it was a very emotional time. You know it’s always going to be home. Nigeria is always home,” visibly excited Festus explained.