The National Basketball Association (NBA), Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA), Africare and ExxonMobil today announced the launch of “Power Forward,” a youth engagement initiative that will use basketball to develop health, leadership and life skills in Nigeria. Nigerian native and Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon, fellow countryman and former NBA player Obinna Ekezie and three-time WNBA champion Swin Cash joined leading Nigerian government officials in tipping off the program today during a two-day launch event in Abuja.
Over 50 Students from several high schools in Abuja, Nigeria participated at the launch ceremony of the Power Forward program sponsored by ExxonMobil, NBA/WNBA and Africare. Picture shows the students at the launch event with Nigeria's Minister of Finance, Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala; NBA Hall of Famer, Hakeem Olajuwon; former NBA player, Obinna Ekezie; WNBA All Star, Swin Cash and executives from the 3 partner organizations. (Photo: Business Wire)“Young people are the future of our country,” said Mallam Bolaji Abdullahi, Nigerian Minister of Sports and Supervising Minister for Youth Development. “The Power Forward initiative will teach young Nigerians teamwork, communication and persistence—the same skills they need to grow into future leaders in their communities.” “Power Forward” is being introduced at 10 public and private high schools in Abuja and will engage 300 students, with equal representation of boys and girls. The NBA, WNBA, Africare and ExxonMobil have worked with local school and education officials to develop the innovative program. Africare collaborated with YEDI (Youth Empowerment and Development Initiative) to create the initiative’s comprehensive life skills element. This includes a curriculum that teaches leadership skills and builds health awareness through a combination of classroom and athletic activities. Students will progress along a clear path, and be evaluated at different stages, so they have goals to strive toward during the program. Each school will have a coach assigned to oversee the curriculum, guide students through lessons and monitor progress. The partners have committed to ensure each institution has the supplies, support and basketball facilities it needs to make this program a success.