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Features, NBA Africa, Sports

Nigeria youngsters share Journey in NBA Academy

For two female aspiring professional basketball players from Nigeria, the NBA Academy has changed their lives.

  • Toyosi Afolayan
  • 8th March 2024
NBA Africa

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2024 and the theme “Invest in Women: Accelerate Progress,” the NBA Academy Women’s Virtual Program stands as a beacon of empowerment and opportunity for young female athletes worldwide.


Launched on Jan. 7, the program welcomed over 50 talented basketball players aged 14-16 from 32 countries.


Cinnamon Lister, NBA Elite Basketball women’s operations lead, emphasized the program’s role in nurturing both on-court skills and off-court leadership qualities.


“The NBA Academy Women’s Program is a key pillar of our ongoing commitment to creating opportunities for young women around the world to develop on the court and as leaders in their communities.” said Cinnamon Lister, NBA Elite Basketball women’s operations lead.


Through a four-week virtual journey, participants like Chinicherem and Franka embarked on a transformative experience, discovering resilience, discipline, and the power of setting ambitious goals.


Two of Nigeria’s rising stars in basketball, Chinicherem, and Franka, shared their experiences within the NBA Academy program. The conversation with BOUNCE encapsulated their trials, triumphs, and aspirations and showcased the transformative impact of the program on these promising athletes, providing a glimpse into the future of Nigerian women’s basketball.


Reflecting on Nigeria’s performance in the 2023 African Cup of Nations (AFCON), Chinicherem acknowledged the challenges faced while celebrating the resilience displayed by their national team. Transitioning seamlessly to the topic at hand, she expressed heartfelt gratitude for the invaluable opportunities extended by the NBA Academy, affirming its pivotal role in shaping her athletic trajectory.


“The NBA Academy program has been an incredible journey for me,” Chinicherem shared. “It’s not just about basketball; it’s about discipline, setting goals, and pushing yourself beyond your limits. I’m grateful for the chance to grow as an athlete and as a person.”


Franka echoed her sentiment, adding, “Being part of the NBA Academy has been a life-changing experience. It’s taught me about perseverance, the importance of teamwork, and how to navigate challenges on and off the court. I’m proud of how far I’ve come.”


In a candid exchange, Chinicherem went on to talk about the core tenets instilled by the NBA Academy, underscoring the significance of discipline, goal-setting, and unwavering determination. 


“One thing I’m proud of achieving is, I think, discipline. Yes, like they emphasize more discipline and setting your goals right. Like knowing when to set your goals and setting your goals at the right time.”  Chinicherem revealed.


Addressing prevailing gender stereotypes within Nigerian basketball circles, the athletes shed light on the transformative impact of the program in fostering inclusivity and challenging conventional norms.


They articulated the journey of overcoming familial and societal expectations through poignant anecdotes, emerging as trailblazers for aspiring female athletes.


I think we should give room to more female basketball players. Because here in Nigeria, it’s very hard for you to see parents who encourage their daughters to play basketball. I just think they should create a page for them to say more about that.


The dialogue revealed the nuanced dynamics of balancing. As they shoot hoops and chase dreams, Chinicherem and Franka know the importance of balancing books and basketball, offering sage advice rooted in their personal experiences.  


I feel like they should know how to use their time. There should be time for everything. There is time for them to study, and there is time for training. You can’t mix the two. If it’s time for training, you go for training. If it is time for classes, you go for classes. That’s how I feel. And with God by our side, I pray God helps. Amen.

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