Exclusive: D’Tigress Expose Kida, Threaten To Boycott World Cup Qualifiers

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Exclusive: D’Tigress Expose Kida, Threaten To Boycott World Cup Qualifiers

By Niyi Busari

The African champions, D’Tigress players in one voice have threatened to boycott the World Cup qualifiers coming up in February. Nigeria’s D’Tigress retained their Women’s Afrobasket crown with a 70-59 win over a spirited Mali at the Palais Polyvalent du Sports in Yaounde, the Cameroonian capital on Sunday, September 26, 2021.

The win secured the team’s third consecutive Afrobasket title after previous victories in Mali in 2017 and Senegal in 2019. The feat that qualified them for the FIBA World Cup qualifiers.

Despite the victories, the girls broke the silence and revealed why they performed woefully at the Olympic stating that they were being maltreated, owed backlogs of allowance and bonuses since 2017, and were been abandoned by the outgoing Kida-led Nigeria Basketball Federation. The players in one voice during zoom meeting accused Kida that he only came around them to celebrate victories for his political gains. They however, listed three conditions; payment of backlogs of bonuses and allowance, Presidential visit to Aso Rock among others should be fulfilled by the federation and the Ministry of Sports before honouring the World Cup qualifiers.

Meanwhile, Kida on several forums claimed that the Federation is not owing D’Tigress.

Here are their responses to questions asked by BSN Sports in an exclusive interview conducted via Zoom meeting where seven players were present.

1.The outgoing president of the NBBF (Musa Kida) said the federation is not owing any players, officials or vendor, how true is this?

Ans: This is not true, the last time we checked our allowance, bonuses and training grants (which the ministry is responsible for the entire athletes that were in Tokyo game, all account numbers have been submitted but still no remittance). Donations made by banks for players, officials, volunteers, etc dating back to 2018 have not paid to the players. They forgot we all have a relationship and stay in the communication.

2. If this is not true, can you help outline the money the federation is still owing?

Ans: A) $500 each for FIBA World Cup players / officials

B.) $1,000 each for finishing in the FIBA world cup final 8

C.) $1,000 each for winning Afrobasket in Senegal 2019 players/officials

D.) $300-$400 which is the balance of Olympic qualifiers in Mozambique. The players/officials supposed to be paid $100 per day.

E.) $2000 training grants for Olympics games in Tokyo players only

F.) $100,000 donations by 3 Nigeria banks to all the players and officials that make the D’Tigress Olympic possible (final roster or not). (the men also has $100,000 assigned to them, total $200,000). We thank Zenith, Access and Guarantee Trust Bank

G.) Miscellaneous expenses by players and officials the full breakdown has been submitted to the outgoing president and Hon. minister Sunday Dare

We want to say thank you to former minister of sports, Solomon Dalung and Professor Yakassai for fulfilling the bonuses of about $20,000 personal fund (Dalung) $1000 Prof. Yakassai in 2017 when we ruled Africa.

3. How will you describe your relationship with outgoing administration/Leadership do you think they have been transparent with you all when you have concern that needs to be addressed by leadership?

Ans: It was normal at first with our General Manager (GM) stabilizing the team and keeping a line of communication all the way to the ministerial level. Since our GM and Team Manager (TM) resigned we felt like we were been marginalized, we barely saw senior leadership like the former president (Musa Kida) in camp or competition to boost our morals when we have significant issues that need to be addressed above management. If he eventually showed up (president) we get vague answers like our concerns are insignificant. The interesting thing is that they all find a way to show up at men’s camp/competition to support them but when we win they magically show up for photo/celebrations to use for political gains. Musa kida was not in Cameroon but magically showed up in Abuja to take pictures with trophy for political gain.

4. D’Tigress is dominating Africa, no doubt the core players have been together since 2017 which no other Africa team can boast of, but your fans are wondering what happened at just concluded Tokyo Olympics they expected a higher finish than FIBA world cup in Spain?

Ans: whoever watched the Olympic Games and know Nigeria basketball could see that something was wrong. We didn’t play our best because we aren’t treated or giving the best during the greatest stages and moment in an athlete career. Yes, we have some injuries, we could have executed better but there were lots of distractions around us. Permit to state them here.

*not knowing who we have available on the team

*not having enough practice time with each other to build cohesiveness

*our head coach did not prioritize adequate preparations nor trust his staff enough to delegate significant responsibility

*poor decisions by outgoing president Musa Kida, he avoided the D’Tigress in camp because he knew we would inquire about our money and other basic thing. And when he made it to the US he bypassed us in Atlanta to Vegas to support the Men’s team. He did not support us with any leadership personnel with an Olympic experience, who also understood Nigeria basketball tradition.

I believed each players that has been part of D’tigress since 2017 has their own thought and feeling about the dissolved NBBF board and coaching staff over the course of time. It is evident that our voice hasn’t been heard, our request for little things ignored on top of nothing being celebrated/recognised as this team deserve, instead allowances and bonuses are being owed by the NBBF and ministry.

Once again not having general manager created unwanted disorder.

This was an icing on the cake for all players with emotional build-up over the year. We know all we could do is to stick together try to stay together and enjoy the Olympics the best we could as a team. We know we were well prepared to play in the Olympic that there would be no doubt we could advance out of our bracket. To our loyal fans that has been by our side through the ups and down we appreciate you all, we are bringing awareness and taking a stand together to fight/ demand things that would continue to make Nigeria great, to be inspirational to young women, and to show that we are proud to play for Nigeria.

5. It is widely understood that head coach Otis Hughley was balancing managerial duties outside his coaching responsibilities, like handling finances, booking flights staff credentials distributions of allowances and other logistic normally delegated to GM. Do you think this added may have less to his lack of focus/integrating his technical crew ( after dumping the original crew) practicing two time a day and showing in biggest competition like the Olympics. Most pundits will say this unheard of, don’t you think?

Ans: this is tough questions to answer because being at Olympic itself after 17 years of the first D’Tigress appearance since 2004 was emotional for us not to put out best foot forward with things we can control was also disappointing. We have a laundry list of things that could have been handled better to increase the chances of our success granted we were in a toughest bracket. Here are the list.

– Travel :
we appreciate our business class seat but our layovers was excessive 36 hours to Tokyo

– Travel Gear:
we weren’t given travel outfits by AFA or organised. When we flew to Tokyo we looked like amateur team and needed sized appropriate outfits

– Practice:
From the moment we arrived in Tokyo we have two practice in a day but no shooting practice, this did not make sense to us especially with high up-tempo basket a we play

– Treatment:
We couldn’t get treatment on top of two practices a day

– Opening Ceremony:
we weren’t organized heading to the opening ceremony we didn’t look like a team.

– Team Gift Exchange:
We didn’t have gifts souvenirs to exchange before games make one feel inferior.

– Team Manager:
They did not let the team manager do her job. But overloaded coach Otis with finance control this should never happen again because it stole time from our preparations.

6. Why haven’t D’tigress being to Nigeria since 2019?

Ans: it is interesting because we are wondering the same thing. This team is revered and owned by Nigeria people. It is customary that the team should be presented to its people in Nigeria before major competition, inspire the next generation to follow their dream give fans first hand experience to connect with the team, and open doors for endorsement and sponsorship by being present locally now and again.

In conclusion, do you have any other message you would like to express the was not covered?

Ans: Yes, we have to two part message one we are appealing to the president of Nigeria, the minister of sport, NBBF administration( whenever it’s decided) private sectors and our fans

We appreciate you support throughout our journey but we feel like condition how we were being managed moving forward need to improve as follow

– we will appreciate it if the D’Tigress can be provided with TATA Macopolo bus

– we will appreciate it if bonuses can be attached to Afrobasket tournament, we qualified for semifinal, final and we win the championship cumulatively.

– we will appreciate if our daily allowance can be increased for world cup and Olympics

– Payment should be in place for world cup and Olympic qualifier each round.

– Payment for the World Cup and Olympic proper, the quarterfinal, semifinal, final and also won gold. All bonuses cumulatively which we have discussed numbers of time should be paid.

Our counterparts even Super Eagles got house as gift. 1996 Olympic got land, athletes got cars after COJA 2005. It was fair that we were gifted something significant to commemorate historical feat of three consecutive wins we just accomplished (3 straight Afrobasket title) and the most successful Africa basketball in world stage so far

We are pleading for state of Art International standard arena to be built in Nigeria because we want to play in front of our fans and family. It hurts that all 3 titles were won in 3 different countries because they have a better arena than Nigeria. As defending champions we want to celebrate with our people by playing at home by playing with subpar arena all we can do is to wish.

Please, we are begging for our sake and future generation. These appeal has been presented by our representative to Mr Femi Adesina, Special Adviser to the president of Nigeria and copied Hon. Sunday Dare to let us have a legacy.

OUR DEMANDS

We need GM to handle players and resource management because when he was there, the difference was clear in the team overall well-being and performance. We do not want our new coaching crew or old ones handling anything but technical issues. It keeps check and natural roles.

All monies we have earned and that is owed to every players, officials, vendors volunteers that we mentioned earlier and the total break down $73.118.78 +

Grant $24,000 (each player x12)

Training $100,000 (bank donations yet to be distributed) should be paid.

“With all due respect to the senior leadership, the presidency, the ministry, NBBF administration old/ new, if these two demands are not met by next tournament in February 2022 FIBA world cup qualifier the entire d’tigress will not show up to camp. We are all saying this as one unit and one voice. Thank you.”

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