Thank you for being a part of the previous episodes where I had a chat with Kwara Falcons power forward Femi Adekanye and then Rivers Hoopers vice-captain, Belema Alamina.
They both shared their lives outside the court and what they involve themselves with during the season long break.
My next episode is on Abidjan Ramblers Guard, Azuoma Dike revealing past experiences in his previous clubs, salaries owed, family and guess what?? He is married and has a son. Laughs! Please stay with me.
Please Introduce Yourself?
My name is Azuoma Dike born on 7th December, 1989. I am from Amuzari town of Isiala Mbano Local Government Area in Imo State. I am the fourth child out of 7 kids of my parents, five girls and two boys though we lost one of the girls.
I attended Anglican Primary school, Ajegunle Lagos. From there I went to like three or four secondary schools because they were based on scholarship, first it was Obe college on Ojo road, Agege later Gaskia College located at Batia, Ijora also in Lagos before I got another scholarship to move to United Christian school, Apapa Lagos where I rounded up my secondary education.
Why Were You Moving Like That?
Actually I was moving like that because I started making money early and I was among the first participants of the Nestle Milo Secondary Schools Basketball in 1998. So I had to keep moving from one school to another because of my other team mates in order to maintain the chemistry in the team and beef up the team. I was also very good in other sports. I played table tennis and volleyball.
Didn’t These Frequent Moves Affect You Academically?
No it didn’t in any way. Alright.
So After Secondary School What Was Next For You?
I went to one of the Universities in Port Harcourt.
Which one? Uniport, UST ?
Please I can’t mention it if you don’t mind. Alright. Well, it’s a long story I don’t like talking about it .
Please share it
Hmmm…….. Its personal ……….I had to stop schooling for some reasons.
Hmmm……. I lost my dad.
I am so sorry about that
Thanks. I was in 200 level at that time when my dad died in 2005. I had to stop for a while for my brother to continue his education. I had to go hustle for more money to assist the family. You know the Igbos have a tradition which benefits the older ones like in marriages, jobs, inheritance etc. In some parts, when there is no one to sponsor, either the younger or older brother drops out to help out with the family responsibilities. For me, I had to start making money to sponsor my immediate elder brother.
Did Your Dad’s Death Contribute To You Playing Basketball?
No. My mum wanted me to play basketball. She bought me my first basketball shoes. Her support for me created a lot of arguments between her and my dad because my dad wanted me to go to school. I lost my dad a year later.
Okay. Talk To Me On Your Journey Through Basketball
My career started in 2001 in Bayelsa state. I qualified for the National Sports Festival for the Gateway Games in 2006 where we won a silver medal and afterwards I got my appointment letter as a civil servant. That same year, I started playing in the DSTV basketball league, signed for Union Bank basketball Club. I played with players like Ejike Ugboaja, Pastor Solomon etc and so many of them are retired now. In 2009, I played for Lagos Islanders and came second in the league, returned to Union bank in 2010 we came third in the league. Then moved back to the south to play for Royal Hoopers winning the league with them in 2011 and 2012. I also emerged as the most valuable player that year with Hoopers. That same year I was in the gold medal team at the All African Games. I left Port Harcourt, moved back to Dodan Warriors and won the highest scorer for that season in 2013. From there, I moved on to Abuja to play for Mark Mentors were I won the league in 2015 and then returned to Lagos to play in the first African Basketball League (ABL). I played for Abidjan Ramblers of Coted’Ivoire and won the league too.
Why Did You Leave The DSTV League To Play For ABL?
I had a better offer that’s why I moved on to play in the ABL. I love Dodan Warriors, have friends there, the chemistry is good, they have a plan for upcoming players and I was happy to be part of them but I just had to move on.
Any Difference Playing In The ABL And Playing In The DSTV Basketball League?
Yes there is. Players need better packaging and welfare. The package we get in the ABL can’t be compared to what we get in the Nigeria Basketball league. A handful of Nigerian League players are not paid more than 30,000 or 40,000 naira in a month. Some of these players are married and have kids. How do you expect such players to cater for their family with this small amount of money? Others are even owed for months and some a year. I have been owed before in my previous club when I used to play for Royal Hoopers. If they would pay me now, it will be close to 2 million naira. That’s huge!
Truly that’s why I left (the then Royal Hoopers not Rivers Hoopers) and I left there angrily without my pay. I was told the money was later released and they refused to pay us. In such situations, how do you want players to feel?
Hmm! quite touching
No one could fight for us we even took the matter to the Federation, and nothing was said about it. We went to the club championship and nothing was done. So leaving the Nigerian League to go play in the ABL was the best decision for me. Even when I played for Mark Mentors, they didn’t pay my salaries in full. So how do you want me to fare? I have a family to take care of, pay their bills and funny enough they are not in Nigeria.
Where are they?
In the United States. What should I tell them? Honey they didn’t pay me for two months, three, I can’t send you money and all that. How do I expect my wife to feel? Some players don’t want to talk to avoid been thrown out of the team which is wrong.
Any Plan To Play In The US, Europe Especially Now That Your Family Are Not Here?
Why not. I have been denied so many times to play for the national team. After playing at the All Africa Games, I qualified Nigeria for the Afro basket Championship and I was denied from going to the Nations Cup not once, twice or thrice. But I have never given up. I know my worth and I know what it takes to be there. I have played against the American born or US based players they are not better than the local players. They (NBFF) believe if you are from America or grew up there, you must make the team and that’s discouraging to the local players. I can mention notable names in the Nigerian League like Abubakar Usman I respect so much, Stanley Gumut, Matthew Omnonya, Musa Yahaya etc they don’t give us the opportunity.
Is That Why You Want To Find Your Way To Europe?
No. It’s going to come not that
I will find my way there. Because we don’t beg to play basketball it is something we enjoy doing, only a few people benefit from basketball in Nigeria.
What Do You Do Outside Basketball?
Outside basketball I do fashion and other personal stuff. I am into Basketball Meets Fashion (BMF) which allows basketball players express their knowledge of fashion outside the court. I also did pant stand model at some point.
When Did You Start All That?
I started when I was still playing for Royal Hoopers but I had to put a stop to it because my fiancée at that time disliked the way I was exposing my body and showing off to the public or cameras. But right now, I still do the BMF we show off clothing line and how well we look good outside the court on the runway. Sometimes people feel basketball players don’t look good but when we step out of the jerseys, you see the real beauty in us.
Are there challenges?
No. Not at all
Let’s Leave Basketball ,You And Let’s Talk About Marriage And Family
Laughs. Okay .
Are you married?
Yes a boy.
What’s his name?
His name is Griffin.
And how old?
He will be two years old on May 22.
Talking About Your Wife Is She A Nigerian?
Yes. She is a Nigerian
You Guys Met Here Or Over There In The US?
Here in Nigeria
So How Was It Like Meeting Her?
It is a long story, my wife played basketball in Delta, and she knew me for at least 10yrs and I didn’t know her.
Then Finally You Got Together?
Can You Tell Me A Little About Her?
Ever since I met her, she has been a blessing to me. I never thought I was going to get married so soon until I met her. She is a wonderful woman, my backbone, a lovely woman, a motivation to me and she also loves fashion like me and does fashion too.
What State IS She From?
She is from Agbor in Delta state
How Was It Like Marrying A Fellow Basketball Player? Was It Ever In Your Plans To Marry A Basketball Player?
Yes I thought about it. Because my EX was a basketball player, she played for the national team too and we dated for 9yrs. Majority of my previous girlfriends were and are basketball players.
So What Happened After Dating Someone For 9yrs And Ended Up Not Marrying Her?
We were engaged actually but things were not working the way we expected it and the way I wanted it, so we had to go our separate ways.
Is It That She Never Wanted You Anymore?
No. Things changed.
How Did You Propose To Your Wife? Tell me.
The first day I met her, I told her she will be my wife and she never believed it. I also told her she will be the mother of my kids and she said, “God forbid! You Azuoma, you that I know and girls are always around you”. Till date it still amazes her that we are married and all I said to her happened. It is not all about you having billions before getting married. Sometimes I even encourage my friends to settle down too.
She Came Back Here To Do The Marriage And Went Back?
How Do U Cope Staying In Nigeria, Playing Your Basketball And She Is Over There With Your Son?
I never planned on staying away from my family like this but there is nothing we can do distance is not a barrier to me because we talk for hours and commitment is there. People don’t believe we can make it work they feel distance is a barrier .It’s not easy not talking with my son, playing with him, and sometimes I feel like getting close to him and then I realize the distance is too far and there is nothing I can do.
How Often Do You See Them? Is It Monthly Or Yearly?
I have not seen them for like two years now?
That is the truth, it is not easy but if she wants to come today I can make her do so but it has to be planned.
How Are You Coping?
I said it is not easy but at the same time it is easy but it depends on the two parties.
But Are You Making Plans For The Family To Be Together In Years To Come?
No not years to come we are supposed to be together by now but I want them to come when the season is on so that they can watch me play.
Any Difference Between When You Were Single And Now You Are Married.
Big time! Because then you think like a boy and if you are married there are things you don’t do if you love your family, party like you wish rather you dedicate 90 percent to your family than yourself.
Why Do You Think Basketball Players Enjoy Being Single Than Married?
Majority of Nigerian guys playing basketball are not doing or earning well, how much are they paying them? 30,000 or 40,000 that is why majority of the guys refuse to get married. Do you know how much a diaper cost now? I can tell you things are expensive in the market now. I used to be a crazy type but getting married calmed me down so much.
*Do You Have Any Regrets For Last Year And Plans For 2017?
No, 2016 was a great year for me I really appreciate GOD and I know this year will even be better than Last year and I pray for that too for my friends
QUEEN JOHN CHALLENGE
ABL or DSTV League? ABL
Would you have preferred to be a Nigerian or an American? American
Partying or Hanging out at home? Home
Messi or Ronaldo? Messi
Sunny day or Rainy day? Sunny day
Cigarette or Alcohol? Haba!! We must take it once in a while, Alcohol
Road Safety or Police? Pleaseoooo, Road Safety
Kelvin Durant or Rusell Westbrook? Kelvin Durant
Mercedes or BMW? Mercedes
House Wife or Career woman? Career woman