Players’ representative on the board of the Nigeria Basketball Federation, Ejike Ugboaja has revealed plans to restructure the league to create an enabling environment for the local based players.
Fixing a minimum wage for players, Player insurance policy, providing more games, pre-season games are among things to be introduced before the start of the 2018 Kwese Basketball League Season. The former Cleveland Cavaliers forward met with players from the Atlantic and Savannah Conference, national division 1 and 2 and the Zenith Basketball League this month sampling their opinions on various issues in the league.
Ugboaja who is also the President of the Basketball Players Association of Nigeria (BAPAN), revealed his numerous plans to aclsports.com on restructuring the league. “My plan for the players is to basically change what the players have been used to in the past. They have not been treated nicely and they have been underpaid. I am working seriously with the board to see how they can change all that and make sure they have something more meaningful. Instead of paying them 25 or 35 thousand naira which most players earn monthly.”
Ugboaja said the minimum wage is yet to be decided by the board but intends to meet with the players again and the clubs before taking a final decision.
“I am still working towards it so I want everyone to sit and decide but there will definitely be a bench mark. I am trying to get the opinion of everyone, the players, clubs, on what they will be comfortable with, hoping we will come to a conclusion at the end of November. For now, no specific amount has been fixed because I can’t decide for them it has to be mine and their ideas to avoid any problem. For clubs who won’t be able to meet up the bench mark, we intend to help them from the sponsorship deals that will come in to league. The clubs, players all have to be on the same page then, we can now present it to the NBBF Board.”
In the past, some players have been neglected or abandoned due to injury while some were not properly catered for by their respective clubs. The former Mark Mentors forward said an insurance policy will be planned out for the players as well as encouraging the uneducated ones to get a formal education.
“We still making plans for insurance to take care of players when they are injured. Also making sure some of them go back to school because there is life after basketball. And another thing we want to put in place is their dress code. We need them to dress like they take the job seriously.
If the minimum wage comes in then they need to behave like one dressing to their place of work in a more accurate or appropriate manner.”
He also commended the performance of the home based players at the 2017 Afrobasket co-hosted by Senegal and Tunisia and urged them to improve their game to retain their place in the national team.
“I am proud of the league players who played but I want them to improve more on their performance. I hope they perform better during the World Cup qualifiers and Commonwealth Games. Previously, we hardly have a good number in the D’tigers but we had like three of them play at the last Afrobasket. We intend to have more play and we will ensure the NBBF give them more numbers in the national team,” he said.
Ugboaja also stated that the home based players need more games to compete favourably with the foreign professionals in the national team. “There will be pre-season games even the coaches too have to get better for the players to get better. We are going to put everything together to get everything right so that players will have more games to play and when you have more games, you play well and they will be active”.
“The Nigeria League is done within three or four months and afterwards, nobody does anything they just stay at home. You can’t compare it with someone who plays basketball for almost a year. We want to keep them active and when they are active, they play better.” Ugboaja concluded.