By Albert Akota
Title sponsors of the Women’s Basketball League Zenith Bank and the Nigeria Basketball Federation want a better structure put in place to improve the standard of the league and make it more competitive and economically rewarding for players.
An agreement on this was reached yesterday at a meeting between Zenith bank and NBBF at its corporate headquarters in Lagos.
Mr Nwabueze Chidubem of the Bank’s Corporate Communications department said there was need to set salary benchmarks for players to ensure that their welfare aligned with international best practices.
“We need to set a standard fundamentally and basic salary benchmarks for players. It begins with the organization of the teams. We will propose that salaries and match bonuses of players are paid directly by the bank or through the teams with proper monitoring.
“People need to have a better understanding of our league which will capture the teams, phases, time frame and venues.
The timetable will not only help us as sponsors in planning for the league, it will also help teams in preparing ahead of time. If we say we have a premier league, we need to know on time.”
Chidubem acknowledged that in view of the economic reality in Nigeria, there is need to do more in improving the sponsorship package of the league.
Christopher Chukwura also of Zenith Bank’s Corporate Social Responsibility department expressed optimism that a new chapter has been opened in the bank’s relationship with NBBF and appealed for early submission of proposals.
The NBBF represented by its Vice President, Babatunde Ogunade and Oni Afolabi (Media representative) thanked Zenith Bank for their unflinching support to basketball in the past 12 years.
At the meeting with the oldest surviving sponsor of basketball in Nigeria, Ogunade reiterated the need to create a friendly environment around the league where people can come and enjoy themselves while watching the sport they love.
“If 3 people gather today to play basketball, people will still stop and watch them. What we need to create in our partnership with Zenith Bank is the attendant value for the league, the organiser and the sponsor.
“As we are all aware, sports go hand in hand with music, entertainment, pleasure, tourism and hospitality. We must leverage on all these to make the league a bigger brand than what we have had so far.”
The federation promised that a structure will be put in place to reward and protect players who are the major actors irrespective of the sponsorship coming to the Zenith Bank Women Basketball League.
“We will create an environment where the players are the bigger brand than the administrators because without them, we won’t be sitting here talking about basketball.”
Ogunade reminded Zenith Bank’s management of their promise to support the senior women’s national team ahead of their world cup outing in 2018 while appealing for Zenith Bank’s backing for the D’Tigers who will be commencing their World Cup qualifiers in February, 2018.
“Like Oliver Twist, the federation will continue to ask for more. We know we can continue to count on you for the sponsorship of the Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League and the World Cup outing of the D’Tigress in 2018.
We will also need your assistance for the senior men’s national team ahead of their own qualifiers.”