Nigeria’s D’Tigress recently clinched the fourth Afrobasket title in a row, with Rena Wakama, the only woman coach in the tournament. As Nigerians bask in the euphoria of their victory, it becomes important to shine the light on the young female leader of the team.
Who is Wakama? Is this her first achievement? How is her current position bringing a refreshing change to male dominance of women’s basketball in Africa?
We attempt to provide answers to these questions by delving into the remarkable life and accomplishments of Rena Wakama. Join us as we get started..
She was once a Tigress
D’Tigress new coach, Wakama has been involved with the team since she graduated from college in 2014. According to her, she was with the team when they travelled to Cameroon for AfroBasket in 2015, but the team did not qualify.
Wakama also represented Nigeria’s First Bank at the FIBA Africa Champions Cup for Women.
Wakama is the youngest head coach DTigress has had
Another remarkable thing that stands out for Wakama is that she is the youngest head coach D’Tigress has ever had. The 31-year-old noted that she quit playing because she wanted to focus on being a coach.
Speaking during an interview, Rena said, “I knew my journey, I knew my task; I knew I wanted to be a head coach someday and so I knew I had to give it a shot sooner or later.”
She further said, “I got my career back into college athletics and had my Masters and here I am still coaching and happy for this opportunity to do the right stuff.”
A Rivers girl who was born in the US
So, let’s get down to answering the question of who Rena is. Rena hails from Rivers State, Nigeria, but she was born in the United States of America, USA. She also schooled in the US but her parents ensured that she did not lose touch with her roots.
In her words, “I was coming home every year and the last time I visited was in 2019 just before Covid started and the travel restrictions came up. But before then I was home every year so I know very well where I am from.”
She is the first female coach to win the women’s Afrobasket championship
Wakama also put an end to the 57 years of male supremacy in women’s basketball in Africa. Speaking on how she got the contract, Wakama said, “I was contacted by Musa (Adamu), the team’s General Manager. And I got to know there was an opening for the Nigeria national team job., I was interested and there were a series of interviews and calls from different people. That’s how I got here finally.”
Wakama who had to battle negative comments bordering on her qualification said, “I read quite a couple of negative comments on the internet but that’s none of my business because I do know I am here for a good reason and that reason will soon reveal itself.”
Wakama had little time to prepare for Rwanda
The 31-year-old was named the head coach of the D’Tigress by the Nigeria Basketball Federation, NBBF, just one month before the start of the Afrobasket. This means that she had little time to prepare her team for the tournament. Despite the little time, Wakama made history by leading her team to glory.
The Graduate of therapeutic recreation and MBA holder from Manhattan College is on a two-year contract that will see her lead the team until the summer of 2025.
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