Secondary school students from at least 40 schools in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, have participated in a talents discovery contest, which also featured American National Basketball Association (NBA) star, Cedric Ceballo.
The pupils underwent the contest which seeks to inculcate life skills such as leadership, respect and personal responsibility.
Speaking at the event in Abuja, Ceballo, an 1995 NBA All-Star and 1992 NBA Slam Dunk Champion, urged the students players to open up on mental and psychological issues which were fundamental to their psycho-social development.
He said, “Most of you in the NBA level struggle with mental health issues; some of them sometimes struggle with mental health challenges. You do have a remedy for us here. Yes, a lot of players struggle with the mental issues and that's the day-to-day process.
“That can be in tough and detrimental to not only to you but to others. So getting the word out, you know, and a great achievement for the ones who are letting that to be known and going to seek out the help because there's help out there. But it's sometimes so hard to detect,”
The contest, Power Forward, is a youths development initiative of ExxonMobil, the National Basketball Association and international non-governmental body – Africare.
Also speaking, the NBA Africa Vice President and Country Head, NBA Nigeria, Gbemisola Abudu, said, “Apart from talent identification, part of what we’re doing is creating a very well defined pathway so that, from a very young age all the way to the elite level, anyone who is identified to have great potentials can follow up.”
In the same breath, the General Manager, ExxonMobil’s Business and Government Relations Office, Adedoyin Adelabu, explained that beyond promoting programmes that aimed to enhance talent development in basketball, the organisation had supported creative and impactful initiatives to reduce the burden of malaria in the country.
“Statistics are important and you will hear them again. Since 2000, ExxonMobil committed more than $170 million in grants to the malaria cause, reaching more than 125 million people throughout Africa and Asia with over 15 million bed nets, 5.6 million doses of antimalarial drugs and more than four million rapid-diagnostic kits,” Adelabu stated.
Meanwhile, the PanAfricare Country Director for Nigeria, Dr. Patrick Adah, expressed optimism that the ‘Power Forward’ programme would continue to succeed.