On February 3, 2015, Chargé d’affaires Gregory Thome welcomed to the U.S. Embassy in Yaoundé three Cameroonian youth and a coach following their selection for a basketball exchange visit to the United States sponsored by the Department of State’s SportsUnited program. They were accompanied by their parents and Cameroon Basketball Federation (FECABASKET) administrators.
The SportsUnited program will be held from February 4 through 16, 2015 in Washington, D.C. and New York City, and welcome participants from Cameroon, Mali, Benin, Cote D’Ivoire, and Burkina Faso. The youth will further practice basketball techniques, team work, conflict resolution, the importance of inclusion, and other life skills. The program will culminate with their participation in an “NBA All-Star Weekend” welcoming professional basketball players.
The Chargé congratulated the youth on their achievements and noted: “This will be the first U.S government sponsored basketball exchange program between our Cameroon and the United States. While the United States works on building diplomatic relationships with countries, we strongly believe people-to-people relationships equally strengthen friendship and collaboration between countries. These exchanges are important for both our countries.” After his remarks, FECABASKET National President Samuel Nduku, on behalf of the Federation and the Ministry of Sports of Cameroon, thanked the U.S. Embassy for catalyzing this sports exchange program “that will be greatly beneficial to the students and coaches selected and their respective communities.”
Cedric Ndame, a 16 year-old Lower-Sixth student at the College Polyvalent Baho in Douala, said he hopes to leverage on his height to improve his basketball skills. Fina Niantcho, a 17 year-old Upper-Sixth basketball player at College Polyvalent Baho, said he looks forward to interacting with fellow African and American players. Oriane Ongolo, a 15 year-old Form 5 student at College Mvogt in Yaoundé, voiced her excitement to “meet NBA players, the best in the world.” Coach Francois Enyegue, from the College Mvogt basketball team, reassured the parents of his diligence and commitment to protect and empower the three student players during their twelve day visit to the United States.
Upon their return, the Cameroonian “Sports Visitors” are expected to share the skills and experiences acquired in the U.S with theirs schools, friends, and local communities. To learn more about United States sports diplomacy programs, please see: http://eca.state.gov/programs-initiatives/sports-diplomacy.
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