The U.S. National Basketball Association is organizing a Basketball Without Borders workshop in Dakar for youth groups in West Africa.
A group of NBA players and coaches will travel to Dakar in August for the first Basketball Without Borders workshop to be held in a developing African country.
From August 5th to 8th, the camp will bring together 65 young basketball players from all over Africa. They will undergo expert tutoring from some of the NBA's top players, including Chris Bosh, Dirk Nowitzki and Dwight Howard, one of the stars of Orlando Magic.
The initiative is being led by Amadou Gallo Fall, the NBA's Vice President of Development in Africa. He said although the NBA has been active in Africa for more than 20 years, this is the first time that its basketball camps will be held outside South Africa.
Fall, who is Senegalese, will be leaving his post as a scout at the Dallas Mavericks to open the NBA's first office in Africa later this year. His basketball career was launched after he was spotted by a peace corps volunteer at a basketball clinic in Tunisia.
Fall said Basketball Without Borders might help launch the careers of future NBA stars.
The first African Basketball Without Borders camp was held in Johannesburg in 2003. Since then, 45 NBA players have taken part in the South African workshops, working as camp counselors and often going unrecognized as they traveled around the country.
Fall said the initiative makes basketball more than just a game. He said sport can be a vector of development. Basketball Without Borders aims to develop the skills of Africa's best young players, but it also gives them an opportunity to engage in discussion and workshops on issues like malaria prevention.
In many African countries, soccer is much more popular than basketball. Fall said the camp in Senegal this year will help the sport grow at a grassroots level.
Mamadou Diagna Ndiaye is the president of Senegal's Olympic Committee, which is partnering with the NBA for the initiative. He said Basketball Without Borders is a fantastic opportunity for young African players. He said he hopes to see the emergence of basketball as a Senegalese sport as a result.
Though Senegal is not yet on the world basketball map, there are several Senegalese players in the NBA. Mouhamed Sene became the first Basketball Without Borders Africa participant to go professional when he was drafted by the Seattle Supersonics in 2006.