The US Consulate General in Lagos in collaboration with the Organised Basketball Network (OBN) Academy has launched a sports diplomacy programme “Uplift African Youth Through Basketball” for 100 boys and girls aged 6-18 from underserved communities in Rivers State.
The basketball camp provided the participants an opportunity to learn from mentors, including alumni of US government exchange programmes, about the sport, gender-based violence, entrepreneurship, and inclusion of marginalised communities.
Speaking at the launch of the basketball camp in Port Harcourt, US Consulate Deputy Public Affairs Officer, Jennifer Foltz highlighted the US government’s commitment to empowering youth in underserved communities with valuable life skills through participation in sports.
Ms Foltz explained that the US Mission had organized many sports initiatives through the Sports Envoy programme, which recruits passionate, articulate, community-oriented professional athletes from the United States, to connect with communities in every corner of the world, using sports as a platform to build connections and to bridge cultural divides.
Declaring the basketball camp open, Rivers State Deputy Governor, Ipalibo Banigo congratulated the participants on their enthusiasm and involvement in the programme, and encouraged them to keep dreaming big.
She expressed her satisfaction with the hardwork demonstrated by the participants and conveyed her appreciation to the US Consulate and OBN Academy, a local basketball institution founded by former NBA player, Obinna Ekezie, for providing mentorship to the participants.
In his remarks, Mr Ekezie said the basketball camp would provide the girls and boys with skills that would enable them to impact their communities positively, adding that the participants would also benefit from follow-on activities throughout the summer.
Reporting by Omolara Omosanya; Editing by Tony Okerafor