17-year-old Haknan Mustapha has said her dream is to play in the Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) and learn the game under her mentor, Te’a Cooper. In an interview with Trust Sports, Haknan also urged the government to pass legislation to make it compulsory for all secondary schools to organize sporting events instead of just focusing on academics alone.
When did you pick up interest in basketball?
I was fascinated by the game and my interest and curiosity in the game increased in 2018 when I was in JSS 3 and since then, it has grown in leaps and bounds.
Since you started playing the game, have you gone to competitions, clinics to improve your game?
I have gone to a lot of competitions organized by different bodies during my secondary days, Even when I finished, I have also gone to camps as well. It has really been a beautiful experience for me. I still want to develop myself.
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How supportive are your parents in playing basketball alongside your educations?
I can’t get better support than what I am currently getting from my mum. My mum is very supportive as she always provides me with all I need for my basketball training. She loves education as well and has been on my toes to ensure that my education doesn’t clash with my basketball. She is my major pillar.
Did any of your parents or siblings play the game?
Funny enough, no one in my family ever played basketball. I am the only one that loves and plays the game in my family. And again, I am the only child of my mum.
Do you intend to play the game professionally or just for leisure?
I want to be a professional basketballer no doubt about that. I aspire to be named among the best players in the world and that can only be possible if I play for my country and play in one of the best clubs in either America or Europe. But my preference is to play in the United States, the WNBA and be among the best players.
Who is your favourite basketball player and why?
Te’a cooper is my favourite player and the way she plays the game inspires me a lot. She is my role model. She plays for Los Angeles Sparks in WNBA. I watch her videos a lot and learn from them. I wish to meet her one day, watch her play life and grow under her wings. It will be a dream come true for me.
You don’t have a club now, so how do you keep yourself in tune with the game?
I often train with a team in my neighbourhood. Trainings are from Mondays to Fridays. That’s how I keep myself in tune with the game. I am looking to get signed up by a club in Nigeria like Air Warriors who are champions. I can learn from them to develop my game for bigger projects in the future.
Often times, people complain of lack of sponsorship from the government, do you have any advice for them?
It is a recurring decimal in Nigerian sports. I often see the news where people complain of lack of funds and recently D’Tigress issue with the basketball federation. It is not good at all and it can discourage athletes but I will advise them keep working and training hard, because you’d never know who’s watching, as we have international scout scouting for young talents like me.
The local league has been dead for quite sometime, in your own view, what do you think is necessary to develop the league and the game in general?
Government should allocate more funds to this sector as it will help in the development of the local league. They should encourage schools to add basketball and other sports in secondary schools’ extra-curricular activities in order to revive the interest of the sport in Young Minds. Education shouldn’t just be books alone. Most schools don’t have time for interhouse sports and the government can make it mandatory that all schools must organize sports competitions.