GABORONE (Botswana) The 3rd edition of the IBF's (International Basketball Foundation) Young Lions Cup South was held over the weekend in Gaborone Botswana. With a new format, this edition was more unified and included a Youth Leader from each participating country.
This year, the teams that had won their national qualifier were accompanied by a Youth Leader as well as a 3x3 coordinator. 6 of the 12 Youth Leaders were female. Furthermore, for the 3x3 tournament, the countries were mixed to allow better interaction within the different nationalities.
“Last year when we were playing as nations, we all kind of stuck together with our respective country. This year with the new initiative, we were all together as one and it allowed us to be more unified” stated Palesa Matloe a player from Lesotho.
The event started with a workshop where the youths were taught life skill through 3x3 basketball with interactive activities for the players, the Youth Leaders and the coordinators. The workshop was led by 3x3 Unites, a foundation that also believes that the skills required to play 3x3 basketball are easily applicable to day to day life.
“It is not only shaping the youths to become better basketball players, but also to become better leaders and ambassadors of Basketball for Good”.”
3x3 Unites coordinators and current professional 3x3 basketball players Bas Rozendaal and Kasper Averink ran a skills day on Friday. They were assisted by the Youth Leaders, teaching the ins and outs of the 3x3 game through individual and collective drills.
During this time, President and Co-founder of 3x3 Unites, Mark Schuurman led an interactive session for the coordinators, teaching them how to push 3x3 forward in their respective countries and working together to find solutions to issues they may face.
Mark expressed, “we are honored to be partnering with the IBF and thank them and the BBA for hosting us here in Gaborone. We used 3X3 basketball to develop life skills, develop talents and empower youth! Talent is everywhere, the circumstances will let them grow and shine in the world”.
Saturday morning was launched with a few youths presenting the goals they had set in the previous days to distinguished guests including FIBA President Hamane Niang, President of 3x3 African commission Ambrose Tashobia and Botswana Basketball Association President Boineelo Hardy.
Youth leader Edson Chambal from Mozambique shared his goal “I would like to help promote 3x3 throughout my country of Mozambique. I have a very clear 1-year plan of how to implement my program country-wide and make a difference thanks to the workshops I went through this weekend”.
A local wheelchair team started the on court games on Saturday afternoon with a demonstration game, followed by the U18 Girls’ and Boys' mixed nationalities tournament.
The Youth Leaders ran the event along with the Botswana Basketball Association, taking control of various aspects including using the FIBA 3x3 online EventMaker.
Sunday morning saw the conclusion of the workshop. “I ask you all to please share what you have learned this weekend in your respective countries” said leadership award winner Winnie Ponoesele. “Don’t be selfish with your knowledge, spread it and help further basketball for good” concluded the Botswana native.
Tournament finals were held on Sunday afternoon. The event was concluded in the presence of the Botswana Minister of youth and sport by a celebratory presentation of the winners including local traditional dancing.
The Boca Mama Ballers won the girls’ event. The team included Winnie Ponoesele from Botswana, Abdou Voula Anchat from Comoros, Atupele Bello form Malawi and Rhajatiana Rasolondraibe from Madagascar.
The boy’s event was won by The Warriors, made up of Marco Rakotovao from Madagascar, Noah Hilengwa from Namibia, Mthokozisi Ncube from Zimbabwe and Reabetsoe Serame from Lesotho.
Winnie Ponosele from Botswana and Pedro Pasile from Namibia won the Basketball For Good awards.
Hamane Niang, Boineelo Hardy and IBF CSR Senior Associate Theren Bullock Jr. appeared on national television to talk about the success of the event.
“It is such an honor being present once again in Botswana for this wonderful event” said Hamane Niang. “It is not only shaping the youths to become better basketball players, but also to become better leaders and ambassadors of Basketball for Good”.