Interview: Is holding the Nigerian passport a crime?

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Olumide Oyedeji a Nigerian-British basketballer who has been a member of the senior men’s Nigerian national basketball team since 1997 has reacted to the recent visa denial by the Spanish Embassy to Nigerian female u 17 basketball players from participating at the FIBA u-17 World Championships.

In this interview with NAIJ.com Sports, the 35-year-old who currently plays for London Lions charged at Nigerian administrators on the essence of the Nigerian international passport. He also on speaks on his career, as well as Nigeria’s chances at the forthcoming Olympics.

Excerpts:

NAIJ.com Sports: Sir, how has the journey been over the years in basketball as you are regarded as one of the best products to come out of Africa to play the game?

First of all, I give thanks to Almighty God for me to make the journey this far. It’s not by my power but by His grace. I thank God for an injury free career despite having a little here and there but I have never had a major injury that set me back in my career for years.

Olumide Oyedeji in action for Nigeria

Olumide Oyedeji in action for Nigeria

The journey has been nice, tough and rough and been so blessing; and I give thanks to God for what I’ve got through this game; it has already given me everything in my life, name, fame, security and I have a wonderful family.

NAIJ.com Sports: Can you rate Nigeria’s chances in Basketball at the forthcoming Olympics?

Well, I think Nigeria’s chances are bright. We just have to start early preparation, supports and motivation and players have to be motivated and we are definitely equal to the task. We want to go and play in the medal-ranked table.

NAIJ.com Sports: At the 2012 Olympics, the Nigerian Basketball team lost ‘ridiculously’ to their American counterparts, what are we not doing right?

Basketball is a game and as I said after the press interview, I say happy birthday to the US because if you shoot 35/45, that means you are shooting about 80 something percent from the three point. We cannot stop that.

We tried to do everything possible but that was their day. In basketball, anything happens and that’s how it is in sports generally. Or do you want to tell me that the Brazilian team were that bad that they were beaten 7-1 by Germany in the World Cup?

The day might be your day, that was a US day and we were not that bad. You saw we won Lithuania who were No. 4 in the world, we beat Greece who were No.5 in the world. We held France No.6 in the world, Argentina No.7 we held them to about 7points; so that means we’re right there.

The game against the US should not be used to justify our performance. Even for us to be in the Top 12 in the world and we made it to the Olympics is a great achievement.

NAIJ.com Sports: The Spanish Embassy recently denied Nigeria’s female Under 17 team visa to travel for a competition, what’s your take on this?

Is it a crime to have a green passport? So that means it is actually a crime to have it and that means it is a crime to be a Nigerian. It is just so unfortunate that our athletes have been treated shabbily, have been treated like criminals buy different embassies.

For example, there’s an athlete who was supposed to go for Olympic qualifying tournament in Turkey, she was denied visa by the Turkish embassy.

NAIJ.com Sports: Can you tell us the name?

I can’t recollect right now, I have to check my records. So I am sure if we do more research, you will know why she got denied; and look at what our athletes go through to go to Europe, South America and whatever…what the go through to get these visas..they are always denied.

We are out there to promote the image of the country, to keep the country’s flag flying, and the get denied.

What our administrators, legislators and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs doing? Is it because the all have official passports? What about other people. The people that actually deserves these official passports don’t have and they should because they are the true ambassadors.

They are the people investing their life and future to this country. The politicians serve this country and get pensions, athletes have no pensions. After you have used all your youthful years to serve this country and when will your country serve you? This is a problem!

When people sitting down in the office embezzle money or rigging allowances, suffering players and despite this, they are still getting pension for sitting down in the office and cheating athletes.

Female basketball team

So, these people don’t know what athletes feel and they need to turn on their table to know what these people feel.

This embassy situation is really getting ridiculous and with these u 17 girls, the hope of these future stars have been dashed. Their hopes have been cut short.

They have been working for this for over a year after Madagascar looking for this time to showcase their talent with their mates, with their peers to make that happen you mention child and children trafficking, while they gave you all you requested for.

I think this is something that the lawmakers need to look into, but sorry to say I don’t know if they do care. Some of these girls have been in camp 6.7.8 weeks, not eating because they were sacrificing to make this trip and we are all looking and folding our hands and nothing happened. Do we even have legislators?

Do we have Ministry of Foreign Affairs? The have to stop this because it is a diplomatic issue. This is an embarrassment to Nigeria and to the Nigerian basketball. It is heartbreak for these kids because they are the future of tomorrow.

NAIJ.com Sports: Finally, you have name and fame how have you been able to cope with your female fans?

Laughs! Wow! Well, I was brought up in a Christian home. My mom used to force me to go to church and that had been part of me. So what I couldn’t do when my mother was there I don’t to them.

Of course, it’s been very difficult and I give glory to God because it has been about self-discipline, although I’m not a saint, just self-discipline.

The post Interview: Is holding the Nigerian passport a crime? appeared first on Nigeria News today & Breaking news | Nigerian newspapers.

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