Addis Ababa, Ethiopia – Some 300 young Ethiopian basketball players and coaches had this week a rare opportunity to train with a delegation from the American National Basketball Association (NBA).
Organized in collaboration with the US Embassy in Ethiopia and the Ethiopian Basketball Federation (EBF). the three-day training concluded on Thursday at the Arat Kilo Youth Center.
The training session with NBA stars and coaches came two weeks after the American basketball association held its first NBA game in Africa.
The training session at Arat Kilo was given to players in both male and female categories.
The NBA delegation included Luol Ajou Deng, a Sudanese-British professional basketball player who currently plays for the Miami Heat. Deng shared his experience aimed at inspiring young Ethiopian basketball players.
“I am very excited to be here. There are a lot of talented young players who love basketball,” Deng told The Reporter. “If all responsible bodies work jointly, and also youngsters train every day starting from high school, we will get top professional players from Africa,” Deng, a two-time All-Star,said.
The 30 year-old 6’9″ tall forward joined Chicago Bulls of NBA as a 19-year-old in 2004. In July 2014, Deng signed a two-year USD 19.8 million contract with the Miami Heat, including an annual average salary close to USD 10 million.
On August 1,the NBA team made up of African players, led by Deng, was pitted against a world team in Johannesburg, South Africa. The exhibition game was described as an attempt by NBA to establish a foothold in a continent gripped with football craze.
In Ethiopia, football and athletics are two of the most prominent sporting activities. But Ethiopian Basketball Federation (EBF) says supports like the ones provided by NBA could help develop the sport in the country.
“This training will help our young players to develop their potential and compete in continental competitions,” Robel Seido, vice president of EBF, said. “The training for our coaches can also help us continuously develop basketball in Ethiopia,” he added.
Ethiopia joined FIBA (Federation of International Basketball Association) in 1949 and has sub-Saharan Africa’s longest basketball tradition. A founding member of the FIBA Africa Championship, the team once belonged to Africa’s top 5 basketball teams. Since the mid-60s, however, the team lost its international significance. Today, it aims at returning to former glory.
The US Embassy in Ethiopia has promised to continuously work with EBA to develop youth talent in basketball.
“The trainers were fantastic. I think there is a great potential in Ethiopia in both participation and coaching,” Learned Dees, cultural affairs officer of US Embassy, told The Reporter. “It is easy to develop basketball in Ethiopia. We are trying to bring about a public-private partnership with NBA, US government and EBF,” Dees added.
More than 35 African players have featured in the NBA since the first Africa-born player was drafted in the league 31 years ago.
For more pictures, visit the U.S. Embassy Facebook Page.
Source: The Reporter