Launched in 2016, HOPE Basketball Academy aims to use basketball as a tool to empower young boys and girls in The Gambia to dream big and maximize opportunities for their future.
Last week, the organization ended a three-day basketball clinic for two hundred and forty young people aged 10-15 at the Serekunda East Basketball courts.
During the clinic, participants were trained on personal development encompassing basketball, health and wellness, leadership and social impact.
The theme for this year’s clinic was “Migration and Social Cohesion”.
On Day 1, participants were taken through various offensive drills which included triple threat position, shooting technique, dribbling, passing, and some one on one moves. Day 2 saw a more intense session with players going through various defense techniques and drills which required maximum effort from players. The drills touched on almost every aspect of defense such as proper spacing, defensive stance, and off-ball defense, on-ball defense, defending the post, and defending screens.
“HOPE is a community based initiative using sport, basketball in particular, to empower young people,” Muhammed Njie, founder and president of Hope Basketball Academy. “Gambia has diverse cultures and the environment is very challenging for young people which is why it is our responsibility to remind young people about who they are so that they can work hard both on the basketball court and in schools.”
By bringing together participants from different schools across the country, HOPE also provides an opportunity for the kids to hear the story of Mustapha Sallah, a migrant returnee from Libya. “We’ve invited Sallah to come and share his story with the kids because we believe he can inspire and encourage them to concentrate on their education and also give them hope that they can make a better living in this country,” said Njie. Award-winning, Gambian rapper, ST, also had a session with the young participants to inspire them.
Adama York, a 15 year old science student of Nusrat Senior School was among the best performers during the clinic. He was awarded with school materials including books to support his education.
His dream is to play in the NBA and sees HOPE as a yardstick to achieving his dream. “This basketball camp means a lot to us,” he said. “I hope that through experiences like this, I can one day fulfil my dream of playing for the NBA.”
Each year, HOPE Basketball Academy unites local basketball coaches to serve as role models for youth participants to teach, motivate and encourage them to continue working hard to achieve their goals.