The 44th President of the United States of America, Barack Obama is using his affection for basketball to benefit the sport in the continent of Africa. On Saturday (Feb. 16), the NBA announced the coming of a pro league team in Africa in partnership with the FIBA, the governing body of the sport called the Basketball Africa League. Obama is reportedly expected to have hands-on involvement.
According to the NBA, The Basketball Africa League is set to be a 12-team league and will begin to play next year, January 2020. Qualification tournaments are positioned to take place later this year to determine which existing club teams will join the league. Teams reigning from Angola, Egypt, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, South Africa, and Tunisia are marked as participants and each country will only be allowed to have a maximum of two teams in the league.
In a video during Saturday’s announcement, former President Obama confirmed his involvement with words of motive.
“Through sport, if you put in effort, you will be rewarded,” Obama said.
I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court.
On Saturday afternoon, Obama tweeted about the groundbreaking initiative noting his desire for the league to expand the continent beyond the sector of athletics.
“I’ve always loved basketball because it’s about building a team that’s equal to more than the sum of its parts. Glad to see this expansion into Africa because for a rising continent, this can be about a lot more than what happens on the court,” Obama tweeted.
Prior to the coming of the Basketball Africa League, Obama has made contributions to the design such as his participation in assisting Toronto general manager Masai Ujiri, a Nigerian native, with the giants of Africa youth basketball program.
This will be the first non-North American operation of the NBA. According to NBA commissioner Adam Silver, the endeavor has received fluent support from many NBA team owners and partners of the league including Pepsi and Nike’s Jordan brand. “As we’ve been talking about this concept over the last several months, there’s been a tremendous reception from several of our NBA team owners,” said Silver. “Several of our partners have also expressed an interest to work with us in Africa.”