- Kano beat Kaduna to win the Noah Dallaji Under-17 basketball tournament with superstar footballers and Nollywood greats in attendance
- The event also witnessed performances from Yemi Alade, Di’ja, Peter of PSquare, Reekado Banks, Sani Danga, and others who thrilled the sports fans
- Participating youths in the competition were offered mentorship and life coaching programme as 14 outstanding players from them will get overseas scholarship
The Aminu Kano Stadium hosted one of the biggest sports parties Kano city may ever experience on Sunday, August 15.
The crowd was wowed with the roll call of artistes which include Yemi Alade, Peter Okoye, Reekado Banks, Di’ja, homeboy Sani Danja, and other local performers who would ever cherish sharing the stage with the top stars.
Anchors of the event were celebrity comedian, AY, and star dancer, Kaffy.
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Also in attendance were ex-international sports icons like Tijani Babangida, Garba Lawal, Emmanuel Babayaro, and more. Also in the house was Nollywood fine guy, Francis Duru, who coordinated from the sides.
The dignitaries didn't come to watch a Kano Pillars’ game instead they were there to witness the finals of the Noah Dallaji Legacy U-17 Basketball Tournament for youths in the Northern conference, a programme of the Noah Dallaji Legacy Project organized in conjunction with Olumide Ayodeji Foundation.
Sponsored by the African Children Talent Discovery Foundation presided over by Engr Noah Dallaji, the programme featured youth mentoring and life coaching in which the music, movie, and sports icons engaged the participants, to provide them insights on various career paths in entertainment and sports, pointing them to the big future ahead, according to their talents and passion, and teaching them how to climb the ropes.
Oyedeji, former captain of D’Tigers, Nigeria's national senior basketball team, and current President of the Nigerian Olympians Association, said he shed tears of fulfillment when some of the players walked up to tell him that the experience was the best thing ever to happen to them.
But, in the plans of Noah Dallaji, it was only the beginning of great things to come towards changing the perfection, reach, and fortune of youths in the North.
“Our mission is to build a great nation through the discovery and development of young talents in virtually every field of endeavor and supporting them to fulfill their destiny. We have been doing this in the education and entertainment sector. We provide scholarships for about 70 students yearly to study in American universities. This has been made possible through our facilitation of a sister-city relationship between the city of Oakland and Bauchi. Now we have come to sports,” Dallaji explained.
Oyedeji on his part reveals that in line with Noah Dallaji's vision, fourteen players have been penciled down from the Kano event for further grooming.
“The plan is to nurture, guide and support them to attain fulfilling careers in basketball. The serious ones among them will be sent on scholarship to various American colleges and universities to ensure that they effectively combine sports and education in the most enabling environment. While some may succeed in achieving a career in basketball, others may end up as professionals in other fields," Oyedeji said.
Dallaji also explained his commitment from a clearer perspective.
“It is our way of changing lives not only for the youngsters but for their families, communities, society, and the nation in general. We believe that their success will inspire those behind them to aspire to achieve the same heights and this programme will be sustained through the years to provide a platform to lift up talented youngsters from the inner communities and villages," he added.
Oyedeji points out that the success of the Kano 2021 programme was especially significant towards redirecting the minds of Northern youths from various social vices and guiding them away from the lure of criminality by offering them a better platform for self-development, life achievement, and the attainment of economic independence.
Even for those not selected among the best 14 or top 5, Oyedeji had this to say.
"When I was in the University of Ife, I was not good enough to play in the school basketball team, but by self-determination and continued hard work, I grew to play in the American collegiate, in the NBA, various clubs in Europe and Asia and became captain of the Nigeria senior basketball team, D’Tigers. So, even though we have selected those we consider to be the best players, it is important to note that we saw many talented players who may not have necessarily excelled in the tournament. You can be talented and not play well at the beginning but with more training, you can distinguish yourself.
“That is why, beyond the training and scouting, I consider the mentorship aspect of the programme even most important as it strengthens the mind and psychology of our young persons to go through life.
“The introduction of entertainment was to feed the passion of the youth and show them that sport is fun. The NBA long adopted the strategy of marrying basketball and entertainment and that enabled them to draw out youngsters from the crime-infested inner cities to embrace basketball. We took it a notch further by bringing the entertainment icons to interact at close and personal range with the participants.
"They now return home not only with the free basketball equipment distributed to them to enable keep on training but with a new insight on the game, career paths and possibilities, and a more positive outlook towards the feature.
"I cannot thank Engr Noah Dallaji, his Legacy Projects initiative, and the ACTDF enough for making this huge investment towards lifting our young persons. When they succeed, they and their families and communities will always remember that he gave them his shoulders to climb.”
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Interestingly, Dallaji says it is all for nothing but the good of the nation.
“We are a non-profit, non-business organization and we have no strings attached in what we do. We aim at a greater nation through lifting and building greater youths by supporting them to develop their talents and passion. We only ask of them that, when they succeed, they should help others also to succeed. That way we all join hands with one another to build a greater nation.
“Sport is a platform for national unity and we must develop and promote it to unite our people especially in the present situation that we find ourselves. It is a personal commitment, also of the Noah Dallaji Legacy Projects and the ACTDF. We intend to do so through all sports and to reach every community as far as we can across the country. We have no contributions from the government nor any corporate organization. We only expect that as they see what we do, they can either join hands with us or contribute in their own way,” he said.