Posts Tagged ‘Basketball Camp Lagos Nigeria’

Looks peaceful enough.

Note: I’ve no clue if this is going to happen yet. I’ve been asked, but as often happens with these international plans, they sometimes fall through. I’ve literally been in the airport ready to board a plane to Antigua when I got a call saying all was off. Let’s just say there are a lot of moving parts that have to come together to make camps like this happen. But man, when they do it’s ALWAYS worth it . . .

So I’ve been asked to direct a charity basketball camp in the city of Lagos, Nigeria next summer. I’ll be in charge of a large coaching staff from all over the world, and the kids attending will mainly be Nigerians from various Nigerian Provinces. As many of you know I’ve directed camps all at several locales, from the midwest to the Eastern Seaboard to the Caribbean. Still, this one could be special, and by special I have no idea what I mean. I know nothing about Nigeria. I have received several emails over the years from a businessman in Nigeria who claims he has some money for me if I could just wire him my bank account information, but I haven’t got around to doing that yet.

So, nothing.

Bottom line I have absolutely no clue what Lagos is like, but the thought of directing a camp there is intriguing to put it mildly. With all that in mind I figured some research was in order. You know, before I go traipsing off to some country I know nothing about. Seems the prudent thing to do. Here’s what I’ve found so far . . .

  • Lagos is a city of 8-million people. Hey, I’m no expert, but that seems like a big city. Ohio has 10-million people, so there ya go. BIG.
  • Apparently Lagos has quite the music scene. A lot of new sounds are emanating from Lagos. Those of you who know me know that’s a huge draw for me.
  • Hakeem Olajawon is from Lagos! Hakeem the Dream! How bad could it be?

I also got on a few chatboards and actually spoke to some folks who told me the people of Lagos are some of the nicest in the world. They also mentioned, very politely, that I probably shouldn’t go out at night. Wait. What? CAUTION REQUIRED seemed to be a common theme. There was also mention of checkpoints where bribes were required and where other nefarious shenanigans were afoot, and by shenanigans I mean people going missing and stuff.

Oh, and one website rated Lagos the world’s 5th Worst Place to Live.

Yikes. But’s let’s not pre-judge.

What the hell, let’s go to the Foriegn and Commonwealth Office and see what they have to say.

There is a high threat from terrorism in Nigeria. Attacks could be indiscriminate, including government, security and educational institutions, international organisations as well as public venues and areas such as restaurants, bars, markets, hotels, shopping centres, places of worship and other areas frequented by expatriates, foreign tourists and business travellers. A number of attacks have taken place around religious and public holidays. There have been regular attacks on churches in northern Nigeria at times of worship. We cannot therefore rule out further attacks taking place. You should be particularly vigilant at these times and in these locations. You should avoid affected areas in the immediate aftermath of an attack.

Damn, they had to mention bars, didn’t they? Shoot. Well, at least there’s no threat of kidnapping or anything. Wait . . .

There is a threat of kidnapping throughout Nigeria. Foreign nationals have been the target of kidnaps. On 20 December 2012 a French national was kidnapped by armed men in Katsina State in northern Nigeria. On 12 May 2011, a British national was kidnapped alongside an Italian national in Kebbi State. Both hostages were killed in Sokoto on 8 March 2012. We advise British nationals to exercise vigilance and caution.

Well, I’m neither British, Italian or French, but I am a foreign national. I’m so confused. But hey, Hakeem Olajawon is from there!

Let’s read on . . .

Localised outbreaks of civil unrest can occur at short notice. You are advised to avoid large crowds, demonstrations and obvious political gatherings. Trouble on the streets can be spontaneous, and can quickly lead to violence. Violent crime is prevalent in the south of the country, including Lagos.

Well, avoiding large crowds should be easy enough. I mean, look at that picture up there!

So, since doing my research I’ve been putting feelers out for a coaching staff to take with me and I must say my loyal coaching friends have been incredibly cowardly open to the idea. Here are some of the actual responses I’ve received:

“Sorry, I have a young daughter at home.”

“I can’t. I have a dentist appointment that week” (I hadn’t told him the dates yet).

“I can’t fly. I have groinal acne.”

“Sorry, I don’t want to get kidnapped and die.”

“Are you f**cking kidding me?”

Still, all things considered, I’ve told them I’m committed to to the camp. Here’s why:

  • It’s for charity. C’mon, you gotta admit it has the potential to be one helluva rewarding experience, right? Right?
  • I’ve been told by several people in Lagos that if you’re there trying to help the country and not get rich from it the bad guys will leave you alone, even go out of their way to protect you. I’m golden.
  • I tell my students that sometimes in life you gotta take a leap of faith for a good cause. I can’t be a hypocrite, now can I? CAN I?
  • I love the game. Seriously, I love basketball. I’ve seen it change, even save, lives. The idea of teaching it to a bunch of eager-to-learn Nigerian kids is appealing to me.
  • It’s going to be a large camp with some major financial backing. I’m assuming we’ll be in good hands. I’m assuming. Seriously, we will be. I think.
  • Making new coaching friends from all over the world and players from all over Nigeria? You can’t put a price on that.
  • Think of the stories I’ll be able to tell! The possibilities are endless. Blog material for years.
  • When I bring back a 7′-3″ 15-year old to play for Paint Valley everyone will thank me.
  • Nothing ventured, nothing gained. I seriously believe that.

As I mentioned earlier, I don’t know for certain this camp will happen. Having said that, I’m sure hoping it will. If so, it’s sure to be an exciting, rewarding, fulfilling, maybe a little frightening, but ultimately once-in-a-lifetime experience.

I can’t wait.

PS – Seriously. Lookin’ for coaches!

UPDATE: Not happening, man. They would not guarantee my lodging in advance. First they said I’d be staying with a local family, to which I counter offered that I needed a hotel, preferably with a well-known name like Hilton or Hyatt or something.  Then they said I’d have a hotel but they’d tell me where it was upon arrival. Nope. No way I’m going to Lagos without everything written in stone in advance. To quote the great Terry Bradshaw, I may be dumb but I’m not stupid. Anyway, opportunity lost.