Lack of competition taking toll on basketball players – Air Warriors coach

SAMSON Sotuminu, the Head Coach of Air Warriors Women Basketball Club, on Thursday said inactivity due to the COVID-19 pandemic was affecting the psyche of basketball players across the country.

Sotuminu told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Abuja that a controlled return of sports would do the players a lot of good.

“The players are just too affected by the lockdown and suspension of sports activities. No school, no basketball. It hasn’t been easy for them at all.

“Sitting down at home and not participating in any competitive game of the sport you love, with no coordinated training, has taken a toll on basketball players.

“Some of the players come to the camp to keep fit mentally and physically, while strictly observing physical distancing. They need basketball to return for the sake of their sanity,” he said.

NAN reports that Sotuminu led the Abuja-based Air Warriors to a fairytale debut in the 2019 Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League, where they defeated MFM Queens 55-53 to become champions.

The club not only became the first debutants to win the league but also the first Savannah Conference club to win the women’s league dominated by teams from the Atlantic Conference.

The coach however said as difficult as things were, staying safe was understandable of utmost priority.

“It has not been easy for players and coaches. It hasn’t been easy for us as a team and our players especially, but we don’t have a choice because keeping safe is the most important priority.

“The management of our club has been benevolent. They keep in touch with each player and a palliative measure was taken to ease the pains occasioned by the pandemic,” he said.

Sotuminu, who was not certain of women basketball holding this year, said the best shot at basketball competition this year could be at the 20th National Sports Festival (NSF).

“I am not sure if basketball activities will return this year. We have just three months left in the year and, to resume activities, some logistics are normally put in place before every competition.

“However, players and coaches can still have a taste of basketball activities this year if the NSF holds.

“ It is not a club competition, but players and coaches will gratefully take it because of inactivity,” he said.

Sotuminu also made a case for a controlled return of basketball and other sports in order to help players and coaches recover from the trauma of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“I play basketball almost every day and I see a lot of people playing basketball every day. I also see a lot of people playing football on a daily basis.

“If competitions can return without spectators, as done in other parts of the world, it will go a long way to restore the enthusiasm of players and coaches, many of whom are really down at the moment,” he said. (NAN)

– Sept. 24, 2020 @ 15:55 GMT |

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