Pastor Skambo Morrison is a former D'Tigers player, who is currently involved in grassroots programmes to raise young ones in the game.
In this interview, he speaks on his plans to start a basketball academy, the need to raise the national teams of truly young people, how age falsification robbed Nigeria of victory in basketball and how too much concentration on the city centres for discovering athletes is killing sports in Nigeria, among many other issues. Excerpt:
What is Summer Camp all about?
The summer camp this time around we picked basketball and we are looking at the kids from 16 years and below, because it is very important that we return and begin to look at some of the reasons why it is becoming a little difficult for us to compete with the outside world in any sports.
One of the reasons is that we start very late, even in terms of preparations we start late in everything we do, apart from that we also have problem with the ages of the athletes we pick for such international events.
So, I feel it is time I come out on my own without waiting for anybody to think about the future, and that time is now, and if you don't start today it is going to be very difficult for us to compete with the outside world.
There is a way a sport culture can be created in people by taking them on early, by knowing the rudiments from when they are young and when they grown older, they know it better.
We were beaten by everybody, especially in basketball, we were beaten terribly, and it is the way we started basketball; we started playing at old age and some of us were forced to bring down our ages by telling the whole world that we are 16 years when we were 27 years; and when we met those who are under 20, we were nowhere to be found.
I am doing this particular Summer Camp, after that it will be basketball academy, and I want to pay attention to kids.
How many kids in all are participating in the Summer Camp?
We have over 70 kids who are taking part in this camp, and they come on different days because some of them have school camp and church camp that they also attend. So, what we do is that on Tuesdays, we have about 30, and here we have six girls attending but on the whole, we have 70 kids
You talked about kids from 16 and below, are they divided into groups like under 12, under 14 and under 16, or how do you classify them?
From 16 downward can fit into so many things. Some of the kids who are 16 have already known much about basketball, so what we do is to polish them for the junior category.
Is the Summer Camp only for Abuja or there other centres across the country?
Well, I do camps everywhere but I have not had a camp that has do with kids like this. This one is a special camp, they are already in basketball so we are going to teach them new rules and the basic fundamentals of the game; and this came out of great passion because of what is happening to Nigeria today.
Any advice to sports authorities in Nigeria?
Yes, my advise to the sports authorities is that the issues of religion, sentiment, tribalism and others, we should grow beyond them; instead we should have Nigeria and sports at heart. To be specific, one doesn't need to know a senior citizen in this country before he participates in sports in this country.
A players doesn't need to come from your state or local government, and that is why at this camp the children of big men and poor men mingle together and we teach them the rudiments of basketball.
So, what I am saying is that concentration in the city is not helping our sports. I want us to return the grassroots where we do inter-local government sports competitions, inter-state competition and others, and I assure you we will find so many good athletes from there to represent the country at international competitions.
Nigeria is spending so much bringing athletes from outside to represent us and back home sports is dying; but I am saying that go to Benue State, Taraba State and you will find good athletes that will do this country proud at international events.
But if our sports federation officials don't begin to work and only sit in offices and quarrel over cash, there is no way we would attain success.
They are just occupying offices and nobody is working in those offices.
So, my advice is that we should go out and look inward, we are spending so much but nothing is happening.
03 November 2012
Nigeria: Why Nigeria Failed Severally in Basketball - Skambo