A basketball fan in Ebonyi State, Judith Nwolisa has named her new baby girl, Evelyn, in honour of Evelyn Akhator, a key player in the nation’s female basketball national team, D’Tigress.
Nwolisa said she took the decision to celebrate the team’s conquest of the 2017 FIBA African Women Basketball Championship in Mali.
Ekhator was among Nigeria’s top performers all through the competition, especially in the final, in which D’Tigress beat title holders from the previous edition, Senegal 65-48 on Sunday.
The team won all their matches in the competition, including a group game against Senegal, and has qualified for the 2018 FIBA World Cup in Spain.
Nwolisa, a basketball player and youth activist, said at her residence in Abakaliki that D’Tigress’ victory made it double celebration for her, after the birth of her baby last Friday.
“I was still celebrating the birth of my new baby when the team won the Afrobasket competition on Sunday and I felt the best way to appreciate them is to name the child after its star player, Evelyn Akhator.
“I am a fan of the Dallas Wing of U.S. player and also monitors her performances alongside other U.S.-based stars such as Ezinne Kalu (Savannah State University) and Ndidi Madu (University of Florida) among others.
“I am impressed with the performances of these players, especially Evelyn. I will encourage my child to play basketball to become a champion and an established star like her,’’ she said.
Nwaolisa commended the team’s coach, Sam Vincent, for effectively blending the locally based players with the overseas-based ones and psyching them to become champions.
“The team lifted its game above their performance which fetched them third place in the competition’s last edition, approaching its game as the final.
“The team also put aside the distraction of funding which affected its preparations and the crisis which engulfed the leadership of the Nigerian Basketball Federation (NBBF) after its board elections,’’ she said.
Nwaloisa called on the parties in the NBBF crisis that created factions to use the opportunity provided by the triumph to sheathe their swords and work to uplift the game.
“The federation should increase its grassroots development programmes to discover new talents who will complement the efforts of these established stars and replace them when inactive.
“The relevant stakeholders should also use the victory to ensure more girl-participation in the sport through developmental programmes in schools, academies and clubs among other areas,’’ she said.
Nwaloisa then urged Nigeria’s soccer team, Super Eagles to emulate D’Tigress and approach their back-to-back 2018 World Cup qualifiers against Cameroon with determination and a conquering spirit.
“The D’Tigress had to shove the influence of more fancied opponents such as Angola and Senegal to win the competition and the Eagles should also rise above Cameroon’s present status in continental soccer,’’ she said.