ExxonMobil, the National Basketball Association (NBA) and Africare will celebrate the second year of the Power Forward pilot program, a youth engagement initiative that uses basketball to develop health literacy and life skills among Nigerian youth, on Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at National Stadium in Abuja. Power Forward began in November 2013 and has been implemented in 10 secondary schools in Abuja.
Former Nigerian NBA and WNBA players Obinna Ekezie, Olumide Oyedeji and Mactabene Amachree will attend the day-long event, which will feature four schools playing in final games for boys and girls, public health teaching and recognition of standout students in the program, as well as aerial dunking performances by the Atlanta Hawks Sky Squad. In conjunction with the basketball activities, bed nets will be distributed and malaria rapid diagnostic tests will be administered to those attending.
Power Forward, which will continue through December 2015, teaches health literacy and life skills such as leadership, respect and personal responsibility through basketball and other programming to positively impact Nigerian secondary school students. Nigerian native and NBA Africa Ambassador Hakeem Olajuwon, fellow countryman and former NBA player Obinna Ekezie, and three-time WNBA Champion Swin Cash attended the inaugural event. WNBA All-Star Chiney Ogwumike and Oyedeji attended the launch of the second season, which was held at the Model Secondary School in Maitama in Abuja last May.
Olumide Oyedeji was selected by the Seattle SuperSonics in the second round of the 2000 NBA Draft. He spent two years in Seattle before playing for the Orlando Magic during the 2002-2003 season. He is the captain of the Nigerian national team that won its first ever Afrobasket title last month.
Obinna Ekezie was selected by the Vancouver Grizzlies in the second round of the 1999 NBA Draft and went on to play for the Washington Wizards, Dallas Mavericks, Los Angeles Clippers and Atlanta Hawks.
Mactabene Amachree is a former WNBA player and the first Nigerian player to play in WNBA. She played for the Phoenix Mercury, New York Liberty, Seattle Storm and Washington Mystics during her WNBA career.
Nolan O’Neal, Chairman and Managing Director, ExxonMobil Upstream affiliates in Nigeria:
“The Power Forward program provides young Nigerians with the opportunity to develop important life skills through an innovative community-based program. The skills acquired through this initiative will stay with these youth throughout their lives and enable them to make a positive difference wherever they are.”
Amadou Gallo Fall, NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa:
“We are excited to be celebrating yet another successful season of Power Forward and to have Obinna, Olumide and Mactabene with us for this special occasion. The commitment of the youth and coaches has been outstanding, and the NBA looks forward to continuing to promote healthy living and support positive social change in Nigeria.”
Olumide Oyedeji, former NBA player and 2015 Afrobasket Champion:
“I was fortunate to be at the launch of this season with Chiney in Abuja, and seeing the children’s engagement and passion for the program and their performances on and off the court was unforgettable. I cannot wait to interact with the youth once again.”
Tijjani Umar, President, Nigerian Basketball Federation:
“Power Forward is a great example of how sport can enable positive social change among youth. With its success so far, I am confident that the program will continue developing future leaders for many years to come.”
Chenfa Dombin, Senior Director, Program Operations and Youth Empowerment, Africare:
“The life skills and public health awareness acquired and developed by the youth involved in Power Forward will remain with them throughout their lives and will be critical to their future success. Africare is committed to supporting the development of Nigeria’s leaders of tomorrow, starting today using innovative youth development initiatives like Power Forward.”