Head coach of the Nigeria Women’s National team, Otis Hughley has said he may resign from his role with the five-time Afrobasket Champions.
The American cited “broken promises, unpaid bonuses,” as part of his reason.
Since taking charge of the team seven weeks before the 2018 FIBA Women’s World Cup in Tenerife-Spain, Hughley led the team to an eighth-place finish at the World Cup, first by an African team. He also won back-to-back Afrobasket titles, qualified for the Tokyo Olympics and the 2022 World Cup in Australia while recording a historic win over France.
In an exclusive chat with Queen Moseph, the American-born coach revealed why he wants to walk away from the D’Tigress.
“The girls went to the media last year and they have been able to get some of their monies from the ministry while waiting for the others that are still going to come. They paid the girls and didn’t pay the officials anything,” Hughley disclosed.
“The girls deserve their money you then tell the coaches they don’t deserve theirs? Money from the grant, the bank donation would they say it is just for the players?
Hughley continued: “I love Nigeria and I want to see them win the World
Championship or gold medal on the world stage. I am being owed for the World Cup qualifying tournament in Serbia and the Olympics. I have tried all I have I can’t continue to do it for free. That will be devalued,” he said.
“The ministry said they will look into it and try to pay me the money we talked about still nothing since the Olympics. I am still waiting for no words from anyone. I am not sure my wife will allow me to continue to do this. I don’t live there but I love the girls, I love the team, I love what we have done.”
Hughley has been in charge of the D’Tigress since August 2018 boasting a record of 10–0 at the Afrobasket and a total of 18 wins and 10 losses (against non-African teams) in all competitions.
The former Sacramento Kings assistant coach revealed he was on a temporary contract when he took over in 2018.
“I was on a temporary contract which was supposed to last for one year but we exceeded expectation and I started to enjoy the girls a little bit so we just continued. The NBBF stood by the contract but after the 2019 Afrobasket the contract was over.
“I didn’t renew it and they didn’t renew it but I could see the frustration President Kida was going through and I didn’t want to be bound to a country and [if] things don’t go right so I can have the freedom to just leave and they also get someone else if they wanted to.
“So, we made an agreement based on tournament and training and Kida lived up to every one of it and he pays on time from his pocket waiting for them (ministry) to pay him back whether they paid him back, how much, if they did pay him back, I don’t know.”
On February 15, 2022, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare recommended a token of appreciation be given to the D’Tigress, a request which received the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari.
The team received a cash reward of N25 million from the Federal Government for winning the Afrobasket 2021 in Cameroon.
Hughley claims none of his coaching staff took part in the largesse.
“Twenty-five million naira promised by the President they gave the athletes and didn’t give any to the coaches. Our participation at the Olympics I planned it all myself: flights, practices, training facilities, we didn’t have a gym, all done by me. This is the first country I have to do that myself.
“If I have to compare what I got in other places it is not close $21,000 per month against $1000 or $2000 dollars a month because I wasn’t doing it for the money.
They got used to it and now they want me to do it for free. After putting up all this time and effort you get to the Olympics no medical staff and your coaching staff is in the hotel it’s just crazy.
“Ministry tried to come in and help but nobody could do anything because NOC was in charge and we saw the result. We learned from it even though we took just 10 healthy players to Serbia you saw what the result was may be if we had more training and more players, we would have been more organized and performed better.”
Hughley says he would only continue on the job if his outstanding allowances are paid and his contract is reviewed.
“I want a contract this time like the average of other countries. I don’t expect them to pay me what China, Taiwan or the US, at least the average pay of other countries so I can totally focus on just our preparation for the World Cup because if I have to quit my job here and do my consultant business here just to provide for my family and have to work to win the World Championship, then it’s not possible. It is not possible,” he reiterated.