By Madisen Carter
Professional basketball player and former Unlimited Potential Basketball lead trainer, Oderah Chidom, is back and better after taking a year off from professional basketball due to COVID-19. She is now a two-time gold medalist and plays overseas in Angers, France with Union Feminine Angers Basket 49.
During her year off of playing basketball professionally, Chidom became a player development coach with UPB. During her time with UPB, her knowledge of the game grew. She said not only did she grow on the individual side of the game, but also learned how five people move on the court and how every player affects the game.
“Taking a step back from playing and teaching the game kind of sparked this thing in me to [think] ‘Okay, let me actually think about how my actions affect the game,’” Chidom said. “It's been fun to use that knowledge and apply it to how I play, how I think, how I talk to my teammates, and how I'm helping my teammates, or even how to communicate with the coach about exactly what he wants.”
In May of 2021, Chidom started to prepare for the 2021 Tokyo Olympics with Team Nigeria. In their game against Team USA on July 27th, they lost 81-72, but their summer was not over as there was still plenty of more basketball to play. It was then time to prepare for FIBA AfroBasket 2021, set to start in September of 2021 in Cameroon.
Twelve teams in Africa were set to play in the tournament, all with the hopes to take home the gold. Nigeria made it through the first four rounds of the tournament defeating Mozambique, Angola, Cote D’Ivoire and Senegal. Nigeria was then matched up against Mali in the final game. Chidom and Nigeria were the last ones standing in the AfroBasket 2021 tournament as they defeated Mali 70-59 and took home the gold.
In the five games played, Chidom averaged 5.4 points, 4 rebounds and 1.6 assists. With her gold medal from 2012 with USA Women’s U17 team, the gold medal with Nigeria is now her second gold medal on her trophy stand.
“[It is] really cool because [with] my heritage I claim two countries, and to be able to be successful wearing both countries on my chest, it's a pretty powerful thing. [I am] super blessed to be in a position to represent something bigger than [myself] on two separate occasions,” Chidom said.
Chidom enjoyed her experience playing basketball in Cameroon, and said it was really cool to see how far African basketball has come. She explained how it is cool to be a part of something that is continuing to grow and how exciting it is to see where the continent will be in the next couple of years. The atmosphere in Cameroon made her feel at home.
“It [was] a beautiful sight to see. The crowd was super lively with colors and chanting, and the music they played at half time was all afro beats,” Chidom said. “I literally felt at home, and even though it was a different country that my family is from, you can see the similarities within the cultures.”
The grind did not stop for Chidom after AfroBasket 2021. Two days after winning the gold, she arrived in Angers, France on Tuesday, September 28th to start her season with Union Feminine Angers Basket 49 in their first game that upcoming Saturday on October 2nd. It was a quick turnaround, but Chidom was up for the challenge to quickly learn the team’s plays and get into the rhythm of European basketball.
After her early games, Chidom and her coach would sit and watch film in detail for two hours on their off days. She said it took some time to adjust and get back into her groove due to the year off, missing practices due to her commitment with Team Nigeria, the language barrier and because she was also battling a groin injury. After about a month and when November came around, everything started to click for Chidom and she said the team is a perfect fit for her.
“It's been a fun, smooth journey. I love the city [and] I love my team. We're doing pretty well in the league, it's very competitive. The French take their basketball very seriously…. The country [is] historically dominant [in] basketball, [so] it's fun playing in a country where the fan support is so great,” Chidom said. “The home games [and] away games, they get really intense, so it's fun playing in lively crowds… Every game is literally a battle and we're playing against a lot of top players in the country [and] world.”
Union Feminine Angers Basket 49 is currently 5-5 on the season with 12 more games left in the regular season. Chidom is averaging 13.3 points, 4.9 rebounds and 1.2 assists. Chidom said she is looking forward to continuing the season successfully with the team, and she wants to keep playing well and communicating well with her teammates. She said that if she and her teammates have the right attitude and mindset during the rest of the season, that is all she can ask for.
The team is currently on a break and will resume play on January 8th against Bretagne Basket. As of now, Chidom is back in Oakland to spend time with her family and to celebrate the holidays. She will then travel back to Angers to finish out the rest of the regular season that ends in April and continue to grow more in her game.
“I love how creative you can be [in basketball,] there's no one style or one method to play. There's no right way to do anything, and it's fun watching people just be creative. It allows me to find my game and fine tune it,” Chidom said. “It's fun discovering these new styles and ways of playing, and I also get to travel the world, meet some dope people, experience some great cultures, and eat some good food. It's a fun lifestyle.”