- Am ready and willing to give basketball a lift
- Youth development and empowerment is very dear to me, CEO, Hoop Dreams Nigeria – Awosika
- By Maxwell Kumoye
The success story of the game of basketball in Nigeria is not complete without mentioning Hoop Dreams Nigeria (HDN), based in the ancient and historic city of Ibadan in Oyo State, South West, Nigeria which is a little over eight years old now.
Hoop Dreams Nigeria (HDN), that is open to male and female kids between 5 and 18 years old age is a platform that enables them grow in the slamming and dunking game and also secure quality education either at home or abroad. The Academy is one of the fastest breeding ground for the various tiers of the the domestic leagues and the national youth teams.
Over 3,000 children have passed through the Hoop Dreams Nigeria (HDN), in the last eight years with top quality coaching and mentoring without charge and all the bills of Academy has been taking care of by one man who turned 60 on the 6th of September this year, Barrister DAMOLA FOLARERA AWOSIKA, a gentleman that is ticking the right boxes for the game of basketball to blossom and flourish.
It’s interesting to know that Barrister Awosika’s love for basketball started from his primary school days at Abadina Primary School, University of Ibadan (UI) and has never looked back.
BARRISTER AWOSIKA’S DREAM FOR HOOP DREAMS NIGERIA:
Hoop Dreams Nigeria is a Basketball Academy driven by a vision:
★ To provide an opportunity for youths to develop the knowledge, mental and physical skills necessary to participate in basketball at all levels, combined with academic mentoring.
Barrister Damola Awosika who is also the Vice Chairman of Oyo State Basketball Association (OSBA), initiated the program which is in 8th edition not only to take the kids on to the basketball court but it is tailored to meet all the needs of a complete athlete.
✓ Create awareness about the game in and around Oyo State
✓ Give kids the basic rudiment of the game of basketball
✓ Introduce the kids to modern coaching technics
✓ Help institute a culture that encourages education and sports
✓ To create a robust talent pool of young players in the game
✓ To enhance and elevate basketball at grassroots level among all gender
✓ To establish a standard programme for athletes’ succession
✓ The camp also enhances and elevates sports at grassroots level and create friendship among the kids
✓ To help curb age cheating in Sports
✓ To encourage early participation in Sports
After the 30 weeks of training and mentorship, all the kids are giving certificate of participation, the coaches and trainers also be given certificates of appreciation.
For your information, during the closing ceremony of the 8th edition of the program, the CEO and Founder of the academy, Barrister Damola Awosika emphasized on the need to focus on their academics while in school so they can strike a balance with sports.
“Essentially, a sport like basketball keeps the kids mentally and physically fit. However, not everyone will succeed in making a career out of the game, hence the need to keep focused on getting empowered with an academic education.” Awosika stated.
It will interest you to know that during the last edition of the program, the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), came to one of the training session to speak to the kids against use of drugs.
Experienced national coaches took charge of the program which is free of charge, and besides the annual camp, Hoop Dreams Basketball Academy now has a male and female teams and two players in the male team and one in the female team represented Nigeria at the last FIBA Africa Zone 3 Championship in Accra, Ghana which Nigeria won, just to mention but a few success stories.
THE MANY AWOSIKA’S FIRST:
✓ He joined the intermediate team of Oyo State as early as 1977 as an Under 14.
✓ He was a key member of University of Ilorin that qualified for their first NUGA Games at Ife in 1984.
✓ He also made another first by forming and qualifying the first University of Ilorin female team to Ibadan 1986 NUGA Games.
✓ He was also a member of the first NUGA medal winning basketball team of O.A.U at the 1988 Port Harcourt NUGA Games.
✓ Awosika won call-ups to both junior and senior national team camps.
✓ Help create and run the first Ibadan City Basketball League
THE MAN TICKING THE RIGHT BOXES:
Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika was born 60 years ago on 6th Sept 1963 in Oyo town to Prof Yomi Awosika and Late Mrs Cecilia Febisola Awosika and he is a man with many parts and some first too.
He stated his elementary school at St Andrews College Demonstration Primary School, Oyo but after the death of his mother in 1970 at the tender age of 7 led to disruption of his early education, changing schools a few times. He later had some interesting secondary education, notable among them were Loyola College, Ibadan, Osogbo Grammar School and Methodist Grammar School, Challenge, Ibadan.
A graduate of law from Obafemi Awolowo University, having been initially admitted to study law in University of Ilorin, accreditation issues with the legal council compelled his law set to sit OAU final exams. He was subsequently called to the Nigerian Bar in 1989 and he completed his N.Y.S.C in Port Harcourt, Rivers State and was employed to the chambers of one of his university lecturers where he practiced for 2 years before he “Checked out”, now known as “Japa” to the UK.
While in the United Kingdom, Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika’s love and passion for basketball never weaned a day and this propelled him to working with U-9 Boxmoor Eagles team from his local community when he lived in the UK.
In the UK, Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika made change in career from the law court into social housing, where he had several successes and set best performances in UK and Scotland as head of income collection for 3 years straight, earning him recognition by the regulatory body.. He was later redeployed to head of lettings & allocations of the largest social housing developer in the UK (Genesis Housing Group), and also within 2 years in that role he turned the department into the best performer in the UK.
Despite these success story off the basketball and law courts, Barrister Awosika’s dream and goal to help build and lift the slamming and dunking game in Nigeria in all ramifications stayed on course.
ON HIS RETURN TO NIGERIA IN 2012 TO PURSUE NEW DREAMS:
★ He joined Estate Links as a director, specializing in international real estate and became a regular columnists in Castle Magazine, a leading weekly Nigeria real Estate Magazine.
★ He featured as Ambassador of foreign properties and several Lagos radio programmes on the same topic.
★ A partner at Hackman Solicitors.
Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika the CEO of Dewberry Associates, founded the Hoop Dreams Basketball Academy three years after returning to Nigeria in 2012 and since then, Hoop Dreams Basketball Academy has been growing from strength to strength and breaking new barriers in the game.
It’s noteworthy to state that family, friends, colleagues and associates of Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika had a novelty game, dinner and party to celebrate a consummate administrator, a fine lawyer, sociable, soft spoken passionate basketball stakeholder @60 at the Pentonrise Event Centre, Housing Corporation Roundabout, Old Bodija in Ibadan.
The last line for the man affectionately called DASHIN DAMMY – The CEO of HOOP DREAMS NIGERIA, Barrister Damola Folarera Awosika, from one of his numerous benefactors, Dayo Emmanuel.
“Words would fail me if I wanted to start talking about your selflessness, sacrifices and love for humanity and especially the game of basketball, Sir, With your generosity, you’ve put smiles on our faces and laughter in our mouths. You gave me a platform to express my potential, took a lot of kids off the streets, put food on the table of countless families, you became the father to the fatherless and husband to widows. Sir, may God continue to bless and keep you.
Happy DIAMOND JUBILEE To You, Sir.”