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Bamijoko Looks On To Basketball For Glory

Published by Guardian on Sat, 07 Jan 2012

A SIXTEEN-year-old Anuoluwapo Bamijoko started out as a footballer but soon changed to basketball when she got to Doregos Private School, Iyana Ipaja, Lagos.Her desire to do sports was at variance with that of her father, Abayomi who wanted her daughter to face her studies because he felt that while education could stand without sports, sports could not stand without education.Eventually, she soon won over her father, who advised that she must not lose sight of her educational pursuit despite her interest in basketball.She said: 'The first game I had interest in was football and I continued doing it until I got to Doregos. But I was persuaded to link up with the school's basketball team by Coach Akinwole Gbemileke. Watching my brother, Seyi and the NBA stars like Kobe Bryant play also helped me understand the rudiments.At Doregos, Anu, as she is fondly called, quickly mastered the game and became an important player. 'My strong point when I started developing my game was dribbling and passing the ball. As a point guard, I could also give lay-ups for my teammates to make the points.'I must say that I had good teammates at Doregos who also helped improve my game. I have won many individual awards and it couldn't have been possible without them. Apart from this, I am also confident when I step onto the court and that has also helped me greatly,' she added.Bamijoko's high work rate earned her the best three-point shooter at the South-west Private Secondary School Basketball competition in 2009. She also got the Most Valuable Player (MVP) award in 2011 edition, the MVP of the Akofa League in 2011, and the MVP at the Doregos Basketball Championship in 2011.Having won these personal accolades, Anu, who is studying Computer Information System at Babcock Universty in Ogun State, is keen to take her career to a higher level. But realising that ambition at Babcock seems remote, as the institution does not have a team she can train with.She noted: 'Babcock is not into sports but I must look out for a way to train and develop myself. Combining education and sports is not a problem for me since I now have the support of my family. While I am in search of where to train, I am also on the look for an institution in the United States that would afford me this opportunity.'Her father, who said he had no doubt about her daughter's sporting ability, would also want her daughter to face her studies. 'I told her that education can stand without sports but sports cannot stand without education.'I must say I was skeptical initially but after seeing what she has done, the whole family gave her support and her brother also helped brush upher basketball skills. What she needs now is a place where she can thrive in education and sports,' he added.After she took part in the Flanders Basketball competition in Belgium last year, Anu was invited to the Nigeria Under-16 national team, but was disappointed after the team pulled out of the World Championship.Her coach at Doregos also expressed the belief that the sky could be the limit for Anu if she got the right institution or club to move her career forward.Faniran Abimbola, the Akofa League coordinator, who was also with Anu in Belgium said the World Championship would have afforded her the opportunity to show the world what she could do. 'Some officials were asking after her the last time we went to Belgium. This is a sign that she can thrive if she gets the right institution to study outside the shores of the country.
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