Basketball star sisters launch fundraising contest to help girls in Nigeria

They are sisters. And both are now big names in the WNBA – the women’s basketball league in the United States.

But Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike are also proud of their Nigerian heritage. And today they launched a fundraising competition to help girls  in their parents’ homeland.

The American-born siblings have teamed up with UNICEF with the goal of giving one million girls in Nigeria access to quality schooling by providing scholarships for female teachers and establishing safe places for girls to learn.

Nneka said: “We want to be able to give back to Nigeria and UNICEF is a great way. We were blessed with an incredible education that we want to make sure others have an opportunity to have.”

Chiney added: “Everyone knows we’re Nigerian and that’s a huge part of us and our culture. To be able to extend our basketball connections to help others is great.

“The most important thing we can do is help educate people and we understand that’s a lot bigger than what we do on the court.”


Like the rest of the world, the sisters were shocked by the mass abduction of more than 200 schoolgirls from Chibok in northern Nigeria. It follows other threats and attacks on schools, students and teachers in the country.

That gave Nneka and Chiney a sense of urgency to help set up the competition, which is open to middle and high school basketball teams across the US. It rewards teams which sign up the most donors and the big prize is a basketball clinic with the sisters.

Both are number one draft picks out of Stanford University. Nneka was chosen first by the Los Angeles Sparks in 2012 and Chiney was drafted first overall by the Connecticut Sun this year.

Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the US Fund for UNICEF, said: “Nigeria has 10 million children out of school – the highest number in the world. We are grateful that Nneka and Chiney are using their voices to inspire girls across the US to support UNICEF’s efforts to provide children in Nigeria with a quality education.”

Find out more about Nneka and Chiney’s Challenge here.

And you can find out how to help the Safe Schools Initiative in Nigeria here.

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