By IKENNA EMEWU
On Saturday, March 23, Zenith Bank took its tradition of growing and sustaining female basketball alive, as the 9th Zenith Bank National Women’s Basketball League kicked off in Abuja. It started with fanfare as the host bank with dignitaries of the female basketball in Nigeria were in attendance and added colour to the ceremony.
The indoor hall of the National Stadium, Abuja, designated for basketball, came alive in the facility that is entirely lifeless and not really in use. So, it was the bank that gave the facility some life after a long lifeless spell. Sixteen teams from different states, including the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) took part in the competition. The current league marked the ninth time the bank was keeping its tradition of hosting and sponsoring the female competition.
As the teams, managers, spectators and officials of the bank and handlers of the female basketball filed and filled the arena, the entire place was taken over by festivities, including games by two secondary schools that signaled the opening event. After that came another game and later a match past by the 16 teams and their coaches. As they all stood in single files, side by side other clubs, there was an array of colours created by their jerseys and kits.
With dignitaries, performing the opening ceremonies and festivities, the game later got underway at about 5.00pm with the first match between the Sunshine Angels of Akure, the defending champions and the FCT Angels. Officials and organisers assured that the league, the foremost women basketball league in Nigeria, having come of age over the years, promises more action as fresh talents that would make the national team at last would be discovered and nurtured to growth and a possible professional career in basketball, even outside Nigeria.
The Abuja tournament ended with two clubs – First Bank and First Deepwater, emerging winners.