National Basketball Africa (NBA) vice-president and managing director Amadou Gallo Fall is impressed with the growth of the game in North West.
When the Junior NBA Basketball League was launched in 2011, it started with about 500 kids and has grown to about 10 000 now.
“We are extremely proud of the work that has been done there by our local coaches,” Gallo Fall said this week.
“When we started, we had to find people, train them and build their capacity. We have achieved this, and that is what is sustaining the programme.”
Gallo Fall said the NBA had some of the world’s top coaches on board to inspire the youngsters.
Washington Mystics basketball player Monique Currie, a member of the Women’s National Basketball Association in the US, was invited to watch this year’s final, which took place last week at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, North West.
Gallo Fall said the programme had expanded to other countries, including Tanzania, Mali, Senegal and Mozambique.
“The programme is ticking all the right boxes. When we started, we had to convince schoolteachers to allow children to play basketball. The message took a while to hit home.
“I remember speaking to the queen mother [Semane Molotlegi], who has been unbelievable in helping us. Her advice was to get the fans involved.”
He said North West was an impressive hub for the development of basketball, adding that his team wanted to expand this success to other parts of the country.
“Our goal is to get as many young people as possible to participate in sport. I think South Africa will benefit immensely from this programme.”
There are also plans to start a Pan-African league.