The game of basketball has a global impact, and NBA player Mohamed Bamba is using the sport as a source of empowerment for youth in Africa. The Harlem native helped create basketball courts at SOS Village Abobo-Gare in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.
The project was led through the Orlando Magic center’s philanthropic imprint, the Mo Bamba Foundation. Construction for the state-of-the-art basketball courts started in April. The sports facility will serve over 200 children daily. The next phase of development will include the addition of stadium lighting and bleachers. Those who oversee the facility—including President of the Fédération Ivoirienne de Basket-Ball Mahama Coulibaly—will host basketball clinics and other recreational activities for youth that Bamba will virtually join each week.
For Bamba, the creation of the athletic facility was personal. It dually serves as an ode to his love for basketball and an homage to his West African ancestry.
“This is an extremely personal project and I’m proud of how it’s all reflected in the courts,” he shared in a statement. “Everything down to the smallest of details represents an important part of my life, from my African roots to my Harlem upbringing, to honoring my family who made this all possible. Mahama helped us identify some incredible local artists and architects who perfectly captured all the intersections of my heritage, and I’m so appreciative for all their hard work.”
This isn’t the first time Bamba has led a philanthropic project in Côte d’Ivoire. He led a COVID-19 relief effort and has also donated over 100 pairs of sneakers to the country’s basketball development program.
Several NBA stars are using their platform and resources to drive change in Africa. Earlier this year, Phoenix Suns center Bismack Biyombo announced he would donate his entire 2022 NBA salary to building a hospital in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
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