The players’ representative on the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Ejike Ugboaja has hinted that the federation will soon go into talks with clubs in the Nigerian League system to fix the minimum wage for players.
Ugboaja made this known after a two-day retreat with players plying their trade in the Nigerian Basketball League system (Premier League, Division 1, Division 2 and Zenith Women Basketball League) in Lagos.
The players’ representative who rose through the ranks in the national teams during a career that spanned 17 years said the new NBBF under Engineer Musa Kida is poised to protect the interest of players.
“As a federation, we are going to enter into a discussion with clubs to decide on a minimum wage for players in the league system. I am going to serve them and do exactly what they expect of me and no player will be left behind.”
He appealed to all players to join hands with the federation to bring the desired change and sanity to the league system.
“Two months ago, nobody knew that what we have achieved could be possible. This is a process that we are putting in place to ensure that all these issues are tackled.”
According to Ejike who is also the President of the Basketball Players Association of Nigeria (BAPAN), the players associations will step in on behalf of players to look for educational opportunities home and abroad as part of their new policy direction to encourage players to combine education with sports.
The former Cleveland Cavaliers player who was drafted straight from the Nigerian league pointed out that the Afrobasket success of the women’s team in Mali, the silver medal winning team of D’Tigers in Tunisia and the recent achievement of the boys and girls 3×3 teams was largely due to the improvement in players’ welfare.
“What we have been seeing in the past is basketball with a whole lot of politics. But with a man who has played the game now in charge of its administration, we are rest assured that he knows what the game is all about and what the players stand for.”
Ejike said that with the leadership quality and achievements recorded in just two months, the players were solidly behind their president who shouldered the bills of basketball officials at the just concluded National Youth Games in Ilorin.
“So, now speaking on behalf of all our players, we are accepting his role as our president. We are solidly behind him as he charts the way forward for basketball in Nigeria.”
Another meeting is slated for this Saturday with players in the Savannah Conference at the Package B of the Abuja National Stadium.