Lifting the Nigerian youth: The Ejike Ugboaja Foundation approach

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Amadou Gallo Fall is an empire builder. Upon attaining success as student-athlete in far-away America he did what real greats are known for: He bent low to lift the Senegalese youths from the dust of defeat. His weapon is the Sports for Educational and Economic Development (SEED) project. Since 1998 when he established this basketball academy, hundreds of young persons have attained unassailable heights in education, playing basketball in America.

By contrast, it was frustration for Nigerian teenagers desirous of education, playing basketball in the West. All that dramatically changed the day Christopher Ejike Ugboaja was drafted “directly” into the American National Basketball Association, NBA, to play for the Cleveland Cavaliers. Fame and fortune beckoned but his heart remained in Nigeria. The talents wasting back home made him restless and he decided to do something.

Like Gallo Fall, Ugboaja understood challenge and response. The Nigerian youth, especially that vulnerable group called sportsmen, must be timely supported to achieve their envisaged dreams. What he did was to fund his own Ejike Ugboaja Foundation, a charity organisation committed to youth education through sports. That was in 2006, the very year the Cavaliers recruited him.

Born 1985 in Kaduna, Ugboaja grew up in poverty. Lea Primary School Tudun Wada gave him his initial education. Next, Government College Kaduna accepted him as a Junior Secondary School student. As an inward looking teen, his mind was settled for basketball, which he gave his best. He rose through the ranks by dint of hard work and good character to represent his fatherland in international basketball engagements. At sixteen, he played for Nigeria in the world cup; repeating the feat at eighteen and twenty-one. He also played in the 2012 Olympic and Commonwealth Games in Argentina.

Since inception, the Ejike Ugboaja Foundation …