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Uchedi Frank: Emerging female basketball star

Although she is less than 18 years, the lanky female basketball player mixes freely with the big girls and is never frightened by their intimidating…

Although she is less than 18 years, the lanky female basketball player mixes freely with the big girls and is never frightened by their intimidating profiles.  She is confidently using her God’s given talent to make a bold statement that the future of the sport in the country is with the youths.

Born on December 13, 1992, the Abia State born female basketball player who is a graduate of Oshodi Comprehensive College Lagos opted for the dunking game because apart from the height advantage she can boast of, she was fascinated by the way the game is played. Consequently, even as she did not get the desired support from her parents who never knew the importance of what she wanted to go into, she persevered and today, they are certainly happy with her achievements so far.

“It wasn’t easy when I started. My parents were not in support because they do not believe in this stuff. They wanted me to concentrate on my studies. They never believed but I had to motivate myself. I thank my team mates and my brothers who stood by me. Since the first day I set foot on court, I have been dreaming of the day I would represent Nigeria. For me, this is dream come true and I can’t thank God enough for his love. My dream is to play professional basketball abroad and keep playing for Nigeria as long as I am relevant”.

Although things are looking good for the teenager, it is pertinent to reiterate here that what kept her going in the face of mounting challenges was purely self motivation with irregular and clandestine support coming in from his elder brothers who took the risk to give her the moral support she needed to play basketball.

To make matters worse for the rising star, the secondary school she attended did not provide enabling environment she needed to flourish. Undaunted, the female basketball player looked beyond her school to the now dilapidated basketball courts at the Lagos National Stadium where she usually sneaked out to train and learn the tricks from some of the senior players.

“We actually have a basketball team in my school but we weren’t that competitive. However as life has its own way of working out things, since the school could not provide for me, I was always at the national stadium slugging it out with bigger opponents. It was not easy but I got encouraged by that”.

From the fore-going, it is easy to deduce that it was sheer determination and self motivation that propelled the player to where she is presently. At just 18, Uchedi wants a piece of the action at the highest level. But looking at her physical attributes and determination, there is no denying the fact that soon, she will become an integral member of the national female basketball team, D’Tigeress.

It is interesting to note that the light skinned little star has just returned from Egypt where she led the national U-18 female basketball team to pick one of the tickets for the 2011 FIBA World Championship in Colombia. To cap her performance at the continental championship, she was crowned the Most Valuable Player of Egypt 2010. As a mark of appreciation for her excellent performance, the National Sports Commission, NSC, has since awarded her a scholarship.

For Uchedi who wants to combine professional basketball with education, nothing can be better than the licence given to her to attend any school of her choice. She knows this and is confident that as long as she lives, she will make maximum use of the scholarship.

“It is not going to be easy but I hope to bend down and achieve the best out of the two. I love to go to school and I like playing basketball. Everything is left for me to handle and I believe that God will see me through”.

Like any other talented female basketball player, she has her eyes on the WBA. Having been following basketball even beyond her immediate environment, she already knows where she wants to take her skills to.

“If I am going to join the WBA, I will certainly like to play for the Detriot. My reason is that I like the way they play basketball. They are one indivisible family and I will one day be part of them. If I do my home work well, I will be there soon. What I have achieved so far is the beginning of better things to come”.

Thus, the 2011 FIBA U-19 World Championship in Colombia is another opportunity for the youngster to prove to all that her performance in Egypt is not another flash in the pan.

. “I am going to work harder because I am going to face more challenges in Colombia. It is an opportunity for me to prove how I emerged the Most Valuable Player on the continent. You can agree with me that I don’t need to relax even one second. I want to go out there and prove that I am not just continental champion but I can do something big even on the global stage”.

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