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By: Mayen Etim
KADUNA, North-West, Nigeria – The Most Valuable Player at the first Northern Youth Alive Basketball Program, Ifeoluwa Bolarinwa, on Friday said that he worked harder to hone his skills to beat his taller opponents.
The diminutive 13-year-old student, who propelled Deepbond Academy of Lagos to a 47-39 points final victory over Kaduna selected side in the week-long tourney in Kaduna, said his slight height put him at a disadvantage among his peers forcing him to work harder on his dribbling, scheming and shooting skills to compensate for lack of height.
Speaking after receiving his MVP trophy for his outstanding performance in the tournament the Christ Divine Football College student said, “I was playing football because my Dad used to play football, but I have been playing basketball for three years.
“But due to my height, and because I want to play better than and beat those taller than me, I have been working extra hard. I have been training hard to be the best among my mates and to beat my opponents even if I’m not as tall as them,” Ifeoluwa added.
Coach of the winning side, Duasimebo Hillary expressed happiness in winning the competition despite having to overcome tough opposition especially in the final. “winning the tournament is interesting because we have to fight for it. Before we came here, I knew we had the chance to play in the final. The final was tough, there was tension throughout.”
Initiator of the Youth Alive Global Initiative and former Technical Director Lagos State Basketball Association, Gbadegesin Olatona said the program was initiated in 2008 to encourage teenagers combine basketball and education across the country.
“We pick young players, teach them the basketball skill and enable them know that as they play basketball their education is very important for them to make the best of their future.
“We know it is a good platform to help them develop their passion to enable them be good enough to represent their state and country. They could get scholarship and make a living from the game.”
Chairman Kaduna State Basketball Association, Morrison Skambo called for more of such competition for Kaduna state basketball players to enable them develop.
“I’m happy Kaduna club placed second, it shows that we have many youth prospect aged 14 years and below in Kaduna. We have children that need support so that we can consistently performed well,” he added.