In today’s blog PPI-SA Fellow Bryan Franklin talks about the beginning of the NBA season, the ending of PPI-SA’s program year, and more.
Today the National Basketball Association (NBA) begins another season. On Saturday PeacePlayers International – South Africa will wrap up its 15th program year with the 26th City Wide Tournament. As the most popular basketball league in the world kicks off, and over 500 children from across Durban end their season, one thing is for sure: Basketball is alive and growing, in Durban, in the United States, and across the world.
The NBA has been operating for nearly sixty years now, and yet it’s hard for me to remember a time I was more excited for the league to kick off. Not because I think my team (the Denver Nuggets) has the chance to win the championship, or even because I’m excited to watch the first half of the season. It’s because through my time in Durban as an International Fellow I have learned to love the game again.
Basketball is on the rise in Africa. Earlier this year the NBA hosted its first ever game on the African continent, and just last week launched its first junior league in Tanzania. The NBA’s marketing ability has undoubtedly helped raise the profile of the sport.
Here in Durban, PPI-SA has been working faithfully since 2001 to use the game of basketball to develop youth and bring different communities together. This Saturday over 500 youth from 10+ communities across Durban will come together for South Africa’s largest youth basketball tournament. This year Highbury Preparatory School, LIV Village, and CAST will all join in. Winners will be crowned at the primary school and high school levels.
The impact of the sport in Durban will go far beyond who wins and who loses on Saturday. Looking back over the last seven months, I would say PPI-SA has already won. This year our professional development program increased by 150% compared to 2014. Four coaches and one high school participant took part in international leadership camps in countries like Cyprus, Germany, and Sweden. PPI-SA has begun partnerships with the likes of the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund, Goldman Sachs, LIV Village, Save the Children, and more. And perhaps most importantly we have seen youth ages 12-25 grow as athletes, students, and young people. While Saturday marks the end of PPI-SA’s 15th program year, the impact of this year on the Durban community will live on.