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ESPN To Air “Feel Good” Nigerian Girls Basketball Story

ESPN To Air “Feel Good” Nigerian Girls Basketball Story

ESPN’s Her Story: Celebrating Women in Sports

Posted by Editor • March 29, 2010

To commemorate Women’s History Month, ESPN will present Her Story: Ten Times Over on Sunday, April 4, at 2:30 p.m. ET. The show will focus on the courage of Mobolaji Akiode, a young Nigerian-American woman, who quit her U.S.-based job in the middle of a recession to return to Nigeria and help inspire and empower girls through sports.

Robin Roberts of ABC’s Good Morning America narrates the half-hour special. A six-minute version of this story will be televised earlier in the day on ESPN’s Outside the Lines at 9 a.m.

The title is based on the Nigerian proverb, “What you give you get, ten times over.”

Kristin Huckshorn, ESPN senior news editor who is overseeing the program, said, “Because of interest this year in both the World Cup and sports in Africa, I wanted to find an untold story that centered specifically on African girls and underlined the struggles they face to play sports. The most inspiring story I found belonged to Mobi. She told me how she had been bullied in school after her family settled in New Jersey and how her own discovery of basketball and competitive sports changed her life. That she was willing to turn her back on all she had gained in America for the chance to change the lives of impoverished young girls inspired me.”

WSEN footnote:

Adiode is getting some help from a retired WNBA star Yolanda Griffith.

Quotes from the special:

Akiode faces frustrations almost daily: “Getting people to buy into this concept has been difficult.  A lot of the girls have said their parents don’t want them to participate in sports, because they need to help with the income of the family.”

Akiode on the opening morning of camp in March, buses did not show up and lights in the gym had not been turned on because of a dispute over diesel needed to run generators:It’s always hard when you start something that’s never been done.  It’s even harder when you are in an African country as a female, and trying to change the mentality and the way things are done.”

Among the girls at Akiode’s camp were four from the city of Jos, where Christian-Muslim violence erupted in January and March. One of those girls, Samira, recalled: “It was terrible. I’ve seen someone burnt. They just came and put petrol and the person and then, match, then, that was all.”

In the safety of Akiode’s camp, Samira and girls she had just met from other cities, danced and sang together in their dorm room.  She says:We need encouragement.  Most of my friends quit basketball because they fear for their lives. So we need people like Mobolaji to encourage us, help us to know ourselves, our worth and what we can do, in the game of basketball and life in general.”

Re-airs:
The program will also be televised on ESPNU on Thursday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. and multiple times on ESPN Classic:  Tuesday, April 6, at 7 p.m., leading into coverage of the Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournament Championship on ESPN; Thursday, May 20, at 9 p.m. and 10 p.m.; Wednesday, June 9, at 12:30 p.m.; and Thursday, June 10, the day before the FIFA World Cup begins in South Africa on the ESPN networks, at 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m.

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Denise J. Saul is the Founder/President of WSEN-Women's Sports & Entertainment Network.

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