Giants of Africa (GOA) founder Masai Ujiri has awarded local basketball player Kaelo Tibe with $1000 to fund his basketball community project in Botswana.
Ujiri who is the president of basketball operations for the NBA team, Toronto Raptors, from Nigeria started a Non-Government Organisation called GOA where he goes to African nations to empower the youth through basketball. Tibe had attended the GOA camp in 2016, when it was initiated in Gaborone.
Meanwhile Tibe noted that he benefited from the grant through Ujiri ‘s Pay it Forward grant program which is devised from three different categories.
Regarding applying for the grant, he said, “I was privileged to have won the ‘Pay it Forward grant. Their Instagram page posted a form online for everyone who had attended the camps in recent years to apply and win a grant. A total of eight out of 110 winners were selected and I am the only one from Southern-Africa who won, whilst other winners came from different African regions”.
The three-tier volunteer grant program includes volunteering at future camps around Africa, Education Grant program to help further your studies and Pay it Forward where you are given money to help you in your community develop the sport and level of play in the area.
According to Tibe, Botswana is not on the same level of development of basketball as compared to the neighbouring countries, therefore the initiative is to help the youth grow in the sport and give them opportunities to play advanced basketball than the ones in the past.
“The initial project was meant for the youth of Botswana, more targeted towards the youth that would like to learn and improve on their basketball skills and knowledge whilst impart life lessons through the sport as well, at a week-long camp when the pandemic is no longer a threat to the human population which will be a while. Anyone will be eligible but an age bracket will be determined at a closer date towards the implementation of the projects” Tibe said
The community initiative will use the money to invest in the youth to play the sport, to learn and grow from it. Tibe explained that the money will help in terms of logistics and administration as well as giving the athletes a great kit in which they could play which he learnt gives players extra motivation to play their hearts out.
He observed: “I was fortunate enough to have had a handful of private sponsors who helped in making my very first tournament which was held at Botho University (8th-9th Feb 2020). Apart from that, I plan to change that and go on the hunt for potential sponsors to help local basketball grow because it has potential to be a leading sport in the nation and just like all sports, there are many life lessons one could learn from playing”.