Former Captain of the Nigeria Senior Men Basketball team, D’ Tigers, Olumide Oyedeji who recently quit active basketball play both at international and club levels availed himself to Blueprint Sports crew, travelling all the way from Lagos to Abuja. In this chat, Oyedeji, a father of Five Kids who is currently the Vice President of Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) under Alhaji Tijani Umar-led board spoke of the current imbroglio facing Nigeria basketball, his life time as a dunking and slamming professional, among other issues.
Life after retirement
I have not even announced that I have retired yet. I only said I was stepping aside for Younger ones at 2016 Olympic Games. There’s a lot of way I can play, not necessary play on a basketball pitch. When you plan with a tea, you are still playing.
I’m even busier than I was. It’s been hectic both in family life and other things I do. Before now, I play basketball, eat and sleep. My family has been supportive. I have been serving Nigeria, working around the country since past year, doing a lot as long as long basketball development is concerned.
My experience has been good, bad and ugly. I’m prepared for this. I’m not scared. The only difference is that the environment is a little bit challenging and difficult. I never saw myself as an administrator. I see myself more as a facilitator. Having stayed outside at better times of my career, it’s been really difficult carrying the function of trying to make impact. It’s difficult because you are trying to add value and People are bent on dragging you down.
You just have to have a listening ear, humble yourself. A rome was not built in a day. It’s a process.
Owing and Managing basketball club in Nigeria
Fun and tough. I’m not a coach, I’m a teacher. A teacher teaches and a coach takes up from there. The essence of setting up my basketball team in Nigeria is to share my wealth of experience. Run with them, jump.
My ideology about having a club is to open People’s eyes on the need to embrace education while they are playing, that’s why the name of the club is Hoops and Read in collaboration with inter-collegiate basketball championship that I’m sponsoring. The players go to school, come back and play basketball. The motto of the team is Education makes you super, talent makes you a super. Education plus talent make you super-star. Like I tell them, my vision is to be a pacesetter. I’m not going to follow me, you follow me.
Breaking African basketball championship jinx with D’ Tigers, comparing 2015 feat and 2017 performance
I give kudos to the players for coming out to play for Nigeria is not easy, you can’t compare 2015 team with that of 2017.
In 2015, everybody played to make 2016 Olympic team. This time, the championship was like a jamboree to them. All I can say is to give kudos to the present players. The next tournament is going to be another tough one; I believe that FIBA will close the entire league in the world to allow players represent their countries for that particular period. Everyone wants to go to the World Cup and Olympics.
My offspring and their career path
I’m a Man of People. I have five Kids. One is 20 years, the other 16. I have a nine, seven and five.
My son plays basketball; my other son plays soccer for the Youth team in Orlando. My other girl is into soccer and basketball. Her team got 11 goals at their last game the other day and she scored eight of them. My little boy plays soccer and basketball, same with the last girl. I’m a typical Yoruba father and at the same I’m a little bit enlightened and exposed. I have to mix both together.
Getting involved into NBBF administrative intrigues
My interest and passion and loyalty is to Nigeria basketball and this country. I remember those days while i was in school in Nigeria for almost 17 years, after the morning assembly; we say I pledge to Nigeria my country. I always try to follow that and remain faithful and honest, to serve Nigeria with all my strength. I believe in due process in everything I do.
Before I made my decision to serve the Nigeria Basketball Federation as Vice President, I consulted widely all the world including FIBA and other Stakeholders. I have my own belief but the highpoint is that the development of basketball is what’s paramount to me.
I’m among few People that have worked with Nigeria basketball for the past 20 years. The future of these young basketball players is what is paramount to me and to promote the image of this Nation. It’s unfortunate that we have this in-built problem for the past 20 years. We have exposed ourselves to the rest of the world. Anyway, sometimes I believe that when there is no war, there is no peace. i never want war, I always want peace.
Unfortunately, anytime I see this, my eyes are full with water (tears) and my heart bleeds and why now? This is the time that basketball is coming up to compete with other and People will just be lying. It’s disheartening that what we are building is falling down on your face. I just feel sad. Anytime i remember this, I always have headache. I don’t what we are fighting for. It’s just unfortunate
I keep challenging everybody; do we really mean well for Nigerian basketball. Do we really do what we are supposed to do? I see no reason why we can’t work together. You mustn’t be the one leading. All these things have been happening all these while. If you can’t join the moving train, just step aside.
I like to work with People of like mind, not those that will be dragging you back. I like people that will add value to what I and they do, not. I Love team work. The actors in these know themselves. Until they drop their boxing gloves and walk away, Nigeria basketball will not know peace. As long as they are still around, there won’t be peace.