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Press Releases 2010

Embassy Dar es Salaam Joins NBA Stars in Sports Diplomacy Outreach

September 21, 2010
Smith Basketball Clinic for Tanzanian Youth (Photo: U.S. Embassy, Dar es Salaam)

Smith Basketball Clinic for Tanzanian Youth

On September 17 and 18, 2010, Public Diplomacy Officer Roberto Quiroz II joined former National Basketball Association (NBA) stars Steve Smith and Marty Conlon at the opening ceremony of the "Smith Basketball Clinic for Tanzanian Youth" sponsored by the Tanzania Basketball Federation (TBF), Coca Cola-Sprite, and the American people. The event was attended by over 30 members of the Tanzanian media and over 200 Tanzanian youth.

Hasheem Thabeet, now playing for THE Memphis Grizzlies, proposed the idea of basketball clinics for Tanzanian youth last year. Hasheem, the first Tanzanian in NBA player, asked the Tanzania Basketball Federation (TBF) to establish the program, and Coca Cola East Africa agreed to serve as sponsor. The Department of State co-sponsored the program by sending 20 Tanzanian coaches from nine regions of mainland Tanzania and Zanzibar to the U.S. under the Sports Visitors Program. The U.S. - Tanzania Basketball Coaching Clinic Exchange was held in Washington D.C., Virginia, Maryland, and Texas. While in the U.S., the coaches observed basketball programs at schools, universities, youth centers, community centers, and professional sports complexes. In addition, they were briefed by experts on the planning and development of professional sports youth clinics.

Upon return from the U.S., the coaches worked with TBF to identify 380 Tanzanian youth from throughout the country to participate in Hasheem Thabeet's Under-18 Basketball Clinic. The program also promoted community involvement with coaches, parents, teachers, and youth working side by side to promote basketball amongst youth. Less than a year after their visit to the U.S., the "Hasheem Thabeet and Steve Smith Under-18 Basketball Clinics" were successfully launched with the support of these coaches.

The basketball clinics' goal is to promote sportsmanship, teamwork, mentorship, and a positive vision for Tanzanian boys and girls under the age of 18 from all parts of the country.

During a press conference in Kiswahili with Mr. Smith and Mr. Conlon, Mr. Quiroz congratulated the NBA players, TBF, corporate sponsors, coaches, and youth participants for promoting the basketball clinic, and noted the support from the American people. He further praised the NBA stars' lives as examples for youth to emulate and said hard work, dedication to education and individual skills, and discipline are essential for attaining success in life. Mr. Quiroz added that they had joined their friend and NBA colleague Hasheem Thabeet in continuing to serve youth throughout the world - and here in Tanzania - through promoting this sport after attaining success in the American National Basketball Association (NBA). In his remarks, Steve Smith thanked the sponsors, coaches, and the American people for their support to Tanzanian youth and for promoting basketball in the country. Smith also praised the skill of Tanzanian players at the court, and announced that Coca Cola-Sprite will sponsor a trip for the three top players of the clinic's competition to visit NBA basketball clinics in the U.S.