HOPE BASKETBALL TOUR
We all have it in us the desire to do well and where possible, give light unto others. History has taught us that hope transcends or triumphs over despair fueling the desire for accomplishment. Picture an injured Willis Reed inspiring a Knicks final game seven Victory over Los Angeles Lakers, Michael Jordan Flu game or iconic Ray Allen shot (despite NBA yellow ropes already decorating the arena in anticipation of a Spurs Championship), and the list is endless. Basketball is punctuated with multiple stories of hope and overcoming odds, be it poverty, getting an education, developing character or peace of mind. In a country eclipsed with massive unemployment, poverty and lack of facilities, my mission has been to give back just as I also was given.
Several years back, a talented Lawi Odera elected to give a young man a pair of sneakers as his were worn out and had holes. This subtle gesture would only be the beginning of the generosity in my playing career that I witnessed or benefited from. Coach Tony Mauldin would later help me get to the States, but it never stopped there. He is arguably the force behind my giving back to basketball, considering what the game has/had done to me.
My initial baby steps were to travel back to my home country, with a suitcase of basketball stuff and issue them. Upon invitation by Coach Lameck Dalla of Outsidaz to a training session, I was inspired by the use of an existing end of a residential road’s rugged playing surface that was doubling up as a basketball court. Occasionally, sessions were interrupted by car hooting to allow for safe passage every now and then. It is against this backdrop of a sad state of affairs that I mooted the idea of Friends of Basketball. Which slowly evolved into an NGO Friends of Basketball Kenya FOB(K), whose main goal was helping youth make better choices at the same time offering a platform for former players to give back to the community. FOB(K) was the first recipient of uniforms and balls donations from Lakeview High School in the USA.
However, the model proved unsustainable and alternative models of achieving similar goals had to be employed. In 2013, I partnered with a lady (Mary) from Yala, where I made donations of balls and uniforms. Soon I was flooded with requests from several local coaches who faced similar challenges and needed help.
The Basketball Hope Tour was because of these conversations with various coaches who were doing so much for the youth with so little that they had.The tour partners with local coaches and empowers them by supplying basketballs, shoes, uniforms and knowledge. We do annual camps in the country, visiting beneficiaries of the donations all over the country training the youth and mentoring them. Perhaps the biggest impact of The Hope Basketball Tour is the message to the youth that discipline, persistence and focus in all aspects of their lives ultimately rewards. Everyone can do something to give hope to the youth; you just have to find out how.