Aisha Mohammed seeks to inspire Nigeria basketball team to Olympics triumph


Nigeria is looking forward to the 2024 Paris Games with great anticipation, buoyed by the confidence of two-time Olympian Aisha Mohammed.

Mohammed, who made her Olympic debut at 18 during the 2004 Athens Games and later represented Nigeria again at the 2022 Tokyo Games, believes her nation is poised for success.

Despite Nigeria not progressing beyond the preliminary round and finishing 11th in both tournaments, Mohammed views these experiences as crucial to her career development.

Standing tall at 1.94 metres (6 feet 4 inches), Mohammed cherishes her time with the D’Tigresses. “I enjoyed every moment as a professional athlete playing for the Nigeria national team, various clubs, and college basketball,” she said.

Aisha Mohammed in a previous match Photo: FIBA

Mohammed reflects fondly on her competitive experiences in Europe, describing them as both challenging and enriching. “The competition was tough and intense, which kept me motivated and constantly learning,” she shared.

Recalling Nigeria’s first AfroBasket title in 2003, which secured their first Olympic appearance, Mohammed emphasized the team’s relentless pursuit of victory. “We were determined to make history. Winning was our sole focus, and achieving it was a dream come true,” she reminisced.

Despite the setbacks in Athens and Tokyo, Mohammed highlights the team’s unwavering dedication as their primary source of inspiration. “Our commitment to making Nigeria proud was our driving force. Personally, I felt privileged and honored to represent my nation,” she stated.

Looking ahead to the 2024 Paris Games, Mohammed has a clear message for the newcomers to the Nigerian team: “They should embrace confidence and courage when they don the green-white-green jersey.

Play with all your heart and give your best effort. Regardless of the outcome, Nigerians will always support and be proud of you. Naija no dey carry last, we are the giant of Africa.”

Nigeria’s group at the Paris Games includes formidable opponents: Canada, Australia, and France. Mohammed cautions these teams not to underestimate the reigning African champions.

Nigeria’s Basketball team Photo: FIBA

 “Nigeria has participated in the Olympics twice and learned valuable lessons. The world remembers our impressive performance at the 2018 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup, where we surprised many,” she remarked.

“Nigeria can replicate that success. With determination, teamwork, and hard work, anything is possible. Just like in Spain, where we advanced to the Quarter-Finals and shocked the world, I believe the team can exceed expectations again,” she asserted.

Reflecting on past challenges, Mohammed recalls the intense game against the USA, where Nigeria showed promise in the initial quarters but eventually succumbed to nerves.

“We started strong but became unsettled and lost our rhythm,” she explained, highlighting the importance of maintaining composure under pressure.

Beyond her playing career, Mohammed is passionate about empowering the next generation of female basketball players in Nigeria. Acknowledging the difficulties in attracting young girls to the sport, she remains committed to supporting those who show determination.

“I encourage young girls who want to play basketball to work hard, maintain self-discipline, and build confidence. Never say ‘I can’t’ or give up on your dreams. Only you can stop yourself from achieving your goals,” she emphasized.

Mohammed believes in the importance of perseverance and hard work. “Nothing comes easy. If you want something badly, you have to put in the extra effort to achieve it. No pain, no gain,” she advised.

Her legacy extends beyond her achievements on the court. Mohammed serves as an inspiration to young Nigerian athletes, motivating them to pursue their dreams with relentless determination.

Her journey from a young Olympian in Athens to a seasoned veteran in Tokyo embodies a story of resilience, dedication, and national pride.

As Nigeria prepares for the 2024 Paris Games, Aisha Mohammed’s spirit and confidence will undoubtedly inspire the D’Tigresses. Her belief in the team’s potential and her encouragement for the newcomers reflect a deep-seated faith in the strength and capabilities of Nigerian athletes.

With a history of overcoming challenges and surpassing expectations, Nigeria, guided by the legacy of sports heroines like Mohammed, is set to make a significant impact in Paris.

Her words resonate with the hopes of a nation: “They should go out there, play their very best, and play their hearts out. No matter what the outcome, we’ll always support and be proud of them. Naija no dey carry last, we are the giant of Africa.”

This unwavering belief in Nigerian athletes, combined with lessons learned from past experiences, sets the stage for what promises to be a remarkable journey at the 2024 Paris Games.

Photo: FIBA

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