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Benin chasing place among Africa's best
PORTO NOVO (Benin) - Re-elected President of the Federation of Benin Basketball (FBBB) Ismahinl Onifade has set new heights for the organisation.
The new outlook of the board is made of fresh hands that have come on board with a strong desire to take the game of basketball in Benin to the next level which is to be among the best in Africa.
Onifade told FIBA.basketball, after his new board was inaugurated by the Ministry of Sports in the presence of the National Olympic Committee, that after taking stock of his first term and the strides that he has reason to aim high.
"OUR NEXT TARGET IS TO TAKE THE BOLD STEP OF BUILDING THE NATIONAL TEAMS TO A LEVEL WHERE WE CAN COMPETE WITH THE BEST IN AFRICA."
"Looking back at the first term in office and noting the achievement, we have set our foundations properly with the setting up of a purely professional league, a national Division 1 League for teams that did not make the professional league, the 3x3 League and lots of grassroots programs.
"Our next target is to take the bold step of building the national teams to a level where we can compete with the best in Africa namely Nigeria, Cote d'Ivoire, Senegal, Tunisia, Angola to mention a few.
"When we look at South-Sudan, Kenya, Uganda and the kind of impact they have made in recent times, we are sure that with dedication, we can compete at the top level of African basketball," Onifade pointed out.
Reflecting on the newly introduced Professional League that was won by ASPAC, Onifade stated that it was one that left many clubs excited and looking forward to another season.
"For the first time in over 30 years of club basketball, a team - ASPAL from the northern part of the country - played in the Final of the League and they gave a good account of themselves with their display of talents and youth. That performance has opened the eyes of many other youths that they have a future in the game.
"Aside from that, the 3x3 was played all over the country with the support of MTN and so many players that were not even in regular clubs turned out with top-class performance.
So, when next time there is a 3x3 African Championship and you see Benin competing among the best, don't be shocked because we're ready to make an impact too."
On how he plans to get Benin to compete among Africa's best teams in the senior men and women as well as other age group championships, Onifade said that the new board is keen on reaching out to the country's players in the diaspora for support to make things work.
"Benin is not short of international players. We have players in America, France, Germany, Italy and Asia. We want to create the enabling environment for these players to commit to playing for their fatherland and with that, we can be sure that we can compete at the highest levels and among the best in Africa."
Onifade and his new board have great dreams but there is also a huge challenge before them and that is funding. He maintained that funding is a major problem affecting the growth of the game in many African countries.
"As a continent, there is a need for improved funding and I believe FIBA Africa is doing its bit towards this end. However, on our part, we're going into a sponsorship drive to push our programs. The national teams and clubs alike need funding to make the difference and we will give our best to get sponsorship for our events."
Onifade was returned for another term of four years with a total of 59 votes out of 73 as against 13 by his rival and former President Alex Wasiu Paraisso who scored 13 votes with one cote voided.