Mobalaji Akiode, GSB ’04, founder of Hope 4 Girls Africa, was honored as an Everyday Hero at the fourth annual espnW: Women + Sports Summit in Dana Point, Calif., on Oct. 9.
Sage Steele, ESPN SportsCenter Co-Host, and Mobalaji Akiode, GSB ’04 (right), with herEveryday Hero award.
Photo by Phil Ellsworth/ESPN Images
The Everyday Heroes program, a new program created by espnW in collaboration with Toyota, honors women who are working to promote and grow sports for girls and women in their local communities. Akiode was one of three people to receive the award during a special presentation at the summit.
“Receiving the honor is amazing,” says Akiode. “You never start out to give back thinking someone will recognize you for it; you do it because it’s the right thing to do and because you love it.”
A standout of the Fordham women’s basketball team 10 years ago, Akiode later played for the 2004 Nigerian national team, which earned Africa’s first-ever Olympic women’s basketball win. That experience sparked Akiode’s dream to return to her native Nigeria to build Hope 4 Girls Africa, a nonprofit that aims to empower and inspire disadvantaged young African women through basketball. Hope 4 Girls offers a national basketball camp and an academy to promote female sports development in Nigerian schools.
“Most times we think, women have arrived, what else is there left to accomplish? This women and sports summit reminds us that there is still much work to be done. To be around many of the women shaping that story is a privilege,” says Akiode.
One of the many sports industry leaders at the summit was Christine Driessen, GSB ’77, executive vice president and chief financial officer of ESPN, and a Fordham University trustee fellow. Driessen had a hand in helping Akiode get a job as an accountant at ESPN, after listening to Akiode speak about mentorship on a student-athlete panel at Fordham. “I look at her as a great role model,” Akiode said of Driesen during a FORDHAM magazine interview in 2010.
— Rachel Buttner