Nguveren Goovy Iyorhe a member of the Nigeria D’Tigress squad that qualified for the Olympics back in 2004 in Athens says she is “very proud” of the present set of D’Tigresses who clinched the Tokyo 2020 Olympics ticket over the weekend.
“I have been following this set of players for the past two years now and I am so proud and happy at what they have accomplished. Frankly, I am quite speechless in trying to explain how I feel for these young ladies and their officials”. Iyorhe spoke Exclusively to #YourSportsMemo www.aclsports.com from her home in France where she is currently coaching the Annemasse Basketball Club in the town close to the Swiss capital, Geneva.
With her tournament and now coaching experience she says to the technical crew “one game and one day at a time. They should be ready to take good and objective decisions on and off the court all the time. Team spirit is very important too. The speeches before, during and after the games are very, very important especially in keeping the team spirit great.”
Goovy Iyorhe is very impressed with the D’Tigress “These ladies have great qualities and great fighting spirit and I do not doubt they will put up a great show in Tokyo. They must have fun playing at the Olympics – that is an important quality to have on the court as a basketball player. Fun with determination; fun with fighting spirit and fun to win”.
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The story of the D’Tigress making the Olympics in 2004 is the kind that only sports throws up. In 2003 the D’Tigress failed to qualify for that year’s AfroBasket tournament that was to be in Mozambique. Goovy (as Iyorhe is called) takes up the story:
“We finished second to Senegal in the qualifiers for that AfroBasket but went on to win the Gold medal at the 2003 African Games in Abuja. A country pulled out of the AfroBasket so FIBA Africa gave us the Wild Card to attend. Nobody gave us a chance as Senegal and Mozambique were the favourites but we beat them in the semi and final to win Nigeria’s first title and thereby qualify for the Olympics the following year”. As Nigerians will say: Just look At God.
So it was not just winning Nigeria’s first AfroBasket title, it was also making the Olympics. How did that feel? “My first reaction was ‘Wow'” Goovy says. “To be honest it is quite difficult to describe how I and most of my mates felt at the time because here we were making history for the country. A lot of us shed tears of joy that day”.
The Point and Shooting Guard believes that this set of D’Tigress will “Certainly want to write their own history. We won one match in Athens so I am sure they would not want to be left out in making history and leaving their footprints on the Nigeria Olympic history”.
As a coach Goovy Iyorhe Aye in looking forward to the Tokyo Olympics for the D’Tigresses has her coaching hat on “These young ladies have had a phenomenal last two years with back to back AfroBasket wins plus World Championships outings. They have also had a good match with the US in the qualifiers but for the Olympics the first aim is to qualify from the group stage first. Then we take it from there”.
The current D’Tigress have no Nigeria based player in the squad as Goovy was in the team that went to Athens. How was she able to handle it back then? “I felt very honoured, proud and very happy. It took a lot of years of hardwork and maybe luck too to make the team”.
A member of the all conquering First Bank Basketball Club for many years from which there were also those who played in the qualifiers “There were many of my fellow home based players who were unlucky to make the squad for the championships but they helped me a lot and supported me. In all honesty, it was really not a big deal playing with the foreign based players because they were comfortable with my game as I was confident in my ability. Coach Sam (Vincent) also believed in me, so we just went on to do our thing on the court. It helped that I was able to play in any position tactically on the court”.
She combines her coaching job with a regular job in the medical field as well as being a wife and mother of two boys. She was very adaptable on the court when she played basketball