BABAJIDE OLUWASEUN an award winning sports journalist writes from Ilorin,kwara state capital on Sports(Basketball)Funding .
The secretary of the kwara falcons Mr Bello Azeez has called on multinational companies to partner with the state’s basketball team in their quest to achieve greater success in this year’s kwese premier basketball league. Mr Azeez joins a growing list of basketball enthusiast who see this partnership as the only way for the second most played sport in Nigeria to grow.
Speaking on the benefits of this partnership, the basketball statistician and referee said ‘The youth stand to benefit the most from the contribution of the multinational companies as it means that clubs like kwara falcons in the premier league can afford to accommodate more of the youths in their set up either in first team or in the clubs ‘feeder team or academy’
Bello Azeez describes the situation of basketball clubs in Nigeria once the season is over as dormant,
‘’Teams just go into hibernation once the season is over, but all that will change with the introduction of more of these multinational companies whose finances will ensure that teams for once can travel outside the country for friendly engagements which creates exposure and experience for the basketball players in the country’’ he said.
But Bello Azeez of the kwara falcons also believes these multinational companies need to be wooed and encouraged in supporting the second most popular sport (only behind football) in a country so crazy over football.
Speaking further Bello said ‘‘I know there is a law in Nigeria for companies that supports and sponsors sporting activities in to be given rebate but I don’t think it is implemented hence the reason why some of the companies shy away from putting their money in sports and basketball has suffered for it also’’
For a modest club like the kwara falcons basketball club from Ilorin whose existence came into being in the late 70s, the very idea of a multinational company partnering with the club is ‘dreaming big’, a club whose foundation was enshrined by the coming together of basketball veterans who envisaged something bigger for basketball in kwara state would be at least proud of the club playing in the elite division in Nigeria, but the management of kwara falcons believe they can go a step further being dominant in the league and believe partnerships with private entities and companies can help.
The relative success currently enjoyed by the falcons though would not have been remotely possible if not for the involvement of the Kwara state government, the thoughts echoed by the ‘falcons’ secretary revealed that the clubs promotion to the premier league in December 2013 is down to the support of the Ahmed Abdulfatai administration.
‘After the Kwara Falcons promotion to the Basketball premier league, the state government realized the need for sustained funding to keep the team competitive and so the kwara falcons were included in the budget of the state’
Bello Azzez explains that the implication of this meant the team could now draw funds from the government purse like other government agencies, benefiting from these funds would be either through subvention (which is the salaries for the management and players of the team) and Match allocation money which is given as a request and it is given to the club on a weekly basis for prosecuting matches both home and away.
The breakdown of this means the Kwara Falcons, entirely managed by the kwara state basketball association presents its budget(which includes salaries of staffs, management and players) to the ministry of sports and youth development who in turn presents it to the kwara state government. This process at times is has been described by the kwara Falcons secretary as lengthy but also transparent and thorough.
Quite obvious that from the early 70s till present, the kwara falcons has been solely financed by various administrations of the kwara state government all contributing to the current successful status of the club.
Interestingly, the kwara falcons who are supervised by the Kwara state basketball association have just 3 individuals actively overseeing the day to day running of the club.The chairman of the association who doubles as the chairman of the Kwara Falcons , the secretary of the Basketball association who also doubles as the secretary of the club and the media officer of the Kwara Falcons. These individuals concurrently run the affairs of both the basketball association and the Club affairs.
When asked of the possibility of a split in this marriage between both parties, Azeez questioned the rationale behind changing a winning partnership, a partnership that has seen the team flirt with qualifying for continental action twice in a row, besides he feels the state government will be reluctant to sever that partnership
‘I don’t think the state government will want to relinquish ownership of the club because first of , it requires a lot of bureaucratic processes and we will need to seek approval from the state government, it is also the state government way of giving back to the youth and taking them off the streets, besides its another avenue to give the government a good face especially when a modest team like ours is doing well in the league’ he said.
Despite the ongoing tussle between the Tijani Umar and Musa Kida faction at the National level for the heart of Nigerian BASKETBALL, the 2018 KWESE premier basketball league will commence this weekend 5th of May and the kwara state government is open to partnering with private and multinational companies as Bello revealed plans are underway pending approval from the state government for the sale of lottery ticket at match venues all to raise funds to support the contributions of government for the club.