As the World Schools Basketball Championship gets underway today in Belgrade, Serbia, Bayelsa State Commissioner for Education, Dr Gentle Emelah, has assured that Nigeria’s representatives, who are from Bayelsa, will make the state and country proud.
Students of St. Jude’s Girls Secondary School, Amarata and Bishop Dimeari Grammar School (BDGS), Ovom, both from Bayelsa, won the male and female categories of the Nestle Milo Schools Basketball Championship in Lagos, to qualify to represent Nigeria at the world schools fiesta.
Dr Emelah, who gave the assurance at a pre-departure send-forth for the teams, in Lagos, commended the state governor, Senator Douye Diri, for his interest in sports.
It will be recalled that since coming on board in 2020, the sports-loving Governor of Bayelsa State has been investing heavily in sports, an action which has yielded serious dividends, judging from the number of laurels the state athletes and teams having been winning both at national and international fora.
The captains of both teams, Idubamo Pius Beggi and Samuel Talents, echoed the education commissioner’s optimism when they vowed to replicate their feat in Nigeria at the international stage, while promising that they would be good ambassadors of Bayelsa and Nigeria.
In his remarks, President of the National Schools Sports Federation (NSSF), Olabisi Joseph, particularly commended the Bayelsa State Government for its support in ensuring that the students are exposed to international competitions just as he urged other states to emulate the Bayelsa State example.
Joseph equally commended the sponsors of the annual Nestle Milo National Secondary Schools Basketball Championships, Nestle Nigeria Plc for its commitment to the competition as well as for providing the platform for the students to showcase their talents.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Category Manager (Beverages), Nestle Nigeria Plc, Tayo Olatunji, said the decision by the Bayelsa State Government to sponsor the students is in line with the ideals of the annual tournament, which is to produce future champions.
The Nigerian contingent is led by the First Lady of Bayelsa State, Dr. Gloria Diri, alongside the President of the NSSF, Mrs. Olabisi Joseph.
Both Nigerian teams will be competing for honours with 19 nations, some of which include Brazil, Bulgaria, Chile, France, Greece, Hungary, India, Ireland and Nepal. Others are North Macedonia, host Serbia, Slovenia, Chinese Taipei, and Turkey.
The boys team has been drawn in Group A alongside Turkey, Hungary, and Chinese Taipei while the girls team will be doing battle with Turkey, Chile and Bulgaria in Group D
This is the first time any Bayelsa team will be competing in the world championship as funds have never been released for the teams before now, especially the girls from St. Jude’s Girls Secondary School, which had qualified on six previous occasions.
In this 2022 edition of the world championship, the two Bayelsa schools flying Nigeria’s flag, are the only African teams in the tournament.
Organised by the International School Sports Federation (ISF) and hosted by the Serbian School Sports Federation, the tournament will come to an end on Friday, September 28, 2022.