Ogwumike sisters raise funds for Nigeria education

The Associated Press

NEW YORK (AP) -- Nneka and Chiney Ogwumike have always valued education.

So it's no surprise the Stanford graduates wanted to do something to help educate girls in their parents' homeland of Nigeria. The WNBA stars launched a fundraising competition Wednesday that's open to middle and high school basketball teams across the U.S. The goal is to raise money to support UNICEF programs focusing on girls' education and empowerment.

The eventual goal is to give one million girls in Nigeria access to quality schooling by providing scholarships for female teachers and establishing safe places for girls to learn. The U.S.-born sisters, who became the second set of siblings drafted No. 1 in a major sports league - joining Peyton and Eli Manning - figured they could use their clout to help get it done.

''We want to be able to give back to Nigeria, and UNICEF is a great way,'' Nneka Ogwumike said in a recent phone interview with The Associated Press. ''We were blessed with an incredible education that we want to make sure others have an opportunity to have.''

The mass kidnappings of schoolgirls in the African nation have added a sense of urgency to the sisters' desire to help. They had planned to get involved with UNICEF before the kidnappings, and were distraught to hear about the 300-plus girls taken in the remote northeast area of Nigeria in April.

''Everyone knows we're Nigerian and that's a huge part of us and our culture,'' Chiney Ogwumike said. ''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.''

Since 2012, teachers and students have been increasingly targeted by extremists, resulting in killings, abductions and threats. Many schools have been bombed, set on fire or attacked.

Nigeria has 10 million children out of school - the highest number in the world, according to Caryl Stern, president and CEO of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF. She said the money raised will help with child protection, access to education, quality education and training teachers.

''These two young women understand that they've been given an amazing opportunity,'' Stern said in a phone interview with the AP. ''They're very reachable and want to be a part of it, not just finance it.

''They want to motivate others to be a part of it. They want to build a movement, that's what they are trying to do here. They want to be leaders in that movement.''

The team competition rewards those who sign up the most donors. The top prize is a private basketball clinic with the sisters.

''The biggest thing we want is for the kids to have fun with it,'' said Chiney, the top pick in the WNBA draft by the Connecticut Sun in April. ''Whatever there reason is for getting involved we support it. If you care about meeting Nneka and I, you can get donors. If you care about bring our girls back, go get donors. If you care about playing basketball and want to do something fun, you can get donors.''

Other prizes include autographed jerseys, pictures and the chance to interact with them via Google Hangouts.

''At the end of the day, this could be an annual thing that becomes huge and impacts the relief fund we're trying to help,'' said Nneka, who plays for the Los Angeles Sparks.


To join the Ogwumike's challenge:


Follow Doug on Twitter at

Sign up for Yahoo Fantasy Hockey
Sorry you didn't like this comment. Please provide a reason below.

Are you sure?
Rating failed. Try again.
Request failed. Try again.
We will promote constructive and witty comments to the top, so everyone sees them!
Sorry, we can’t load comments right now. Try again.
    • Heat anthem singer kneels midcourt

      The singer was identified by the Heat as Denasia Lawrence. Heat players and coaches stood side-by-side for the anthem, all with their arms linked as has been their custom during the preseason. Many had their heads down as Lawrence sang, and the … More »

      AP - Sports - 8 hours ago
    • Mental toughness key at Chelsea, says United's Rashford

      Mental toughness key at Chelsea, says United's Rashford

      (Reuters) - Manchester United striker Marcus Rashford insists mental strength is needed as much as ability in order to come away with victory at Chelsea in Sunday's Premier League clash. After three back-to-back defeats last month, United are on a … More »

      Reuters - 5 minutes ago
    • Fired-up Stokes puts England in command

      (Reuters) - An inspired Ben Stokes revived England with ball and bat on the third day against Bangladesh on Saturday to put the visitors firmly in control of the opening test in Chittagong. Stokes produced a brilliant effort to complete figures of … More »

      Reuters - 7 minutes ago
    • World Cup-winning coach Lippi appointed China manager

      World Cup-winning coach Lippi appointed China manager

      World Cup-winning manager Marcello Lippi has been named as coach of China's national team, the Chinese Football Association (CFA) said on its website on Saturday. The Italian replaced Gao Hongbo, who resigned this month after a 2-0 defeat in … More »

      Reuters - 16 minutes ago
    • Tennis-Kremlin Cup women's singles final result

      Oct 22 (Gracenote) - Result from the Kremlin Cup Women's Singles Final on Saturday 1-Svetlana Kuznetsova (Russia) beat Daria Gavrilova (Australia) 6-2 6-1 … More »

      Reuters - 22 minutes ago