Webber Craves Basketball Played in Every Nigerian Neighbourhood 

For an average Nigerian growing up whether in the city or the rural areas, two sports are always available to play with little or no help from adults and technology. These are the games of football and table tennis. Every corner of the home or street can be converted to a football pitch and football can be played with the original leather or rubber ball bought from the neighbourhood stores or one produced by the kids out of the combination of many soft items. As for table tennis, every table, every bench, or any smooth and clean corridor serves well

But Nigeria has produced a lot of great players in the biggest basketball leagues across the world and the biggest basketball competitions at the university levels and these have translated to having quality national teams. Despite the big mark the game has made for the country, it is not so available to Nigerians. Many of the good players bred in Nigeria started almost as teenagers. This is the story Opeyemi Babalola, better known as Webber wants to change.

The MD/Chief Executive Officer of Webber Engineering Nigeria says, “The one-day event we had (at the 1004 Estate, Victoria Island, Lagos) was to create huge fun and awareness for the young people and lovers of basketball around the islands and Lekki axis. We just wanted to fill in the space with a spectacular event. But this is just a part of what the goal is.

“The full plan is to make basketball courts available in any form at any neighbourhood in Lagos for a start. We can create the 3×3 court or full court depending on the space available and how you want it served. We started our production with just the upright but now we manufacture everything you need to host a standard basketball competition.”

The idea did not come in 2023 but more than 10 years ago for the former basketball player with the Kwara Falcons.

He said, “Years back when I was in Angola I noticed they had a lot of basketball facilities in most corners of the city. And we all know how well the Angolans always perform in African basketball. I believe such accessibility would contribute one way or the other.

“When we got into the courts building and the allied equipment manufacturing, I figured out that we could get basketball going for competitions and entertainment like what we had in 1004 Estate. We have started and do hope that many individuals and corporate bodies can tap into this and make basketball available in every corner of the Nigerian city.”

The 1004 Estate in Victoria Island, Lagos was kept bubbling from midday into the night in the Lagos 3×3 Slam Jam 2023 held on December 10th. It was an event put together by Webber Hoops and Courts in conjunction with Hoop Dreams Nigeria to bring the game to family doorsteps. They had sponsorship support from Pocari Sweat and Red Bull.

The competition had 16 teams competing for the total N500,000 prize money eventually won by the Kingsmen team powered by Abel Offiah ahead of White Fire. It was a super fun time as Webber converted the regular tennis court space into a lovely half-court for 3×3.

And that is the goal of Webber – converting any open space into a mobile basketball court.

“When we can have events everywhere, courts everywhere, we are then able to introduce more people into the game; we can generate more corporate sponsorship interest.

“We are touched by the goal of Giants of Africa (led by Masai Ujiri of the Toronto Raptors) to build 100 basketball courts across the continent of Africa. We are working with them to achieve this goal. If we all put in our little bits, the game will surely get to every doorstep in Nigeria.”

Webber constructs the GOA basketball courts in Nigeria.

The basketball court, uprights, sitting facilities, and the other types of equipment used at the 1004 Estate event were manufactured by Webber Hoops. The company also provides services to other major clients across Nigeria.

Webber played basketball while studying engineering in school. He was not just on the court playing the game but also thinking creatively. Over time he had the conviction that he could produce a basketball upright from scratch. He did produce one. The first may not have come out as something manufactured in Dusseldorf or Detroit but he pushed on and today the art has been perfected and expanded to everything a modern basketball court needs.

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