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Top African sportsmen inaugurate state-of-the-art sports facility for underprivileged youth in Côte d’Ivoire

There was a buzz in the air as the young spectators found their seats. Their excitement boiled over at the sight of three big African names: iconic former Chelsea Football Club star and legendary Ivory Coast Elephants captain Didier Drogba; Dikembe Mutombo, eight-time NBA All-Star and Hall of Fame, the American basketball giant; and the President of the African Development Bank Group (, Akinwumi A. Adesina.

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The three were there to inaugurate the new state-of-the-art sports facility for disadvantaged young people in the Ivorian town of Bingerville, just outside Abidjan.

Intense competition was expected as young athletes entered the brand new facility and prepared to compete. These were the sights and sounds at the Bingerville Boys’ Orphanage during the groundbreaking ceremony for the “Giants of Africa” ​​basketball court on Monday.

Speaking passionately to a crowd of over 300 young spectators, Masai Ujiri, Founder of the Giants of Africa Foundation, said, “Young people are the future of Africa. Africa is on the rise, and Africa is now. Youth is proof of that. »

Launched in 2003, “Giants of Africa” uses basketball to educate and enrich the lives of African youth. The organization provides quality facilities, sports equipment and coaches to develop the game of basketball in Africa. It educates and supports underprivileged children and young adults through its basketball camps. The organizers want and urge African youth to dream big.

Every summer since 2003, the Ujiri Giants of Africa have traveled the African continent, organizing camps for boys and girls aged 15 to 19. Abidjan’s basketball court is 12and of 100 courts in the African Giant’s plans for the continent. It is located on the premises of the orphanage which welcomes 256 orphaned and disadvantaged children aged 4 to 18 years.

Ujiri said, “A few years ago, I came here for charity work for the orphanage, and during our discussions, it became clear that the orphanage lacked a sports ground. So, I am committed to providing a first class facility for our children to realize their dreams. These kids here are the legends of tomorrow, and their holistic development through building the right sports facilities will allow them to dream big.

Ujiri delivered his key messages during the 2018 ( and 2019 ( editions of the Africa Investment Forum. He urged: “We need to take sport seriously on this continent because it helps us stay together. Sport can be an engine of economic growth on the continent, and there is an ecosystem around sport that we can develop.

For the President of the African Development Bank Group, Dr. Akinwumi A. Adesina, investments like Giants of Africa are important seeds planted for improving the future of young people in Côte d’Ivoire and in Africa. Adesina said: “I am delighted to be here to encourage you in this initiative. Taking care of this cement of the future of Côte d’Ivoire is a great work of construction for the future of Africa. I pray to God that you become giants of Africa.

Adesina’s speech to young people was interactive, as he held up five fingers to demonstrate the “High 5” strategic priorities of the African Development Bank. He explained to them that it is through these priorities that the Bank invests in the training and employment of young people, as well as in infrastructure for the socio-economic development of the continent.

Drogba also expressed his hopes for the future of African youth through sport. “It is an absolute pleasure for me to be here to support my friend and brother Musai Ujiri,” he said. He added: “His foundation is a pride for Africa, a pride for the youth. I recognize myself in these children from underprivileged backgrounds. Drogba also provides financial and material support in the areas of health and education across the continent through his own foundation.

Mutombo also recognized that sport has the power to change communities. “All these young people, their future is in our hands. If we do nothing, their future will be meaningless. We were never lucky enough to have anyone contact us when we were children in Congo. Today, young people, it is possible. The future belongs to you; the ground is there; take care of it. It’s up to you to use it to become giants.

Ujiri underlined: “The real talent of Africa is its people, whether in the diaspora or on the continent. We must create opportunities for young people to thrive on the continent.

He added: “We have to take sport seriously on this continent because it helps us stay together. Sport can be an engine of economic growth on the continent, and there is an ecosystem around sport that we can develop. We need investors to capitalize on this momentum.

During a friendly basketball game on the new court, these beacons of leadership and athletic excellence epitomized the kind of progress that can be achieved when collaboration takes center stage.

For additional reference to Masai Ujiri’s commitment to investing in Africa, see below:

FIA 2019.Africa room. Opening Plenary: Keeping the Promise: (Masai Ujiri starts talking about 01:13)

AIF 2018. The Sports Industry – Executing to Succeed: (Masai Ujiri starts speaking from 02:58)

Interview AIF2018 Masai Ujiri:

Interview with Masai Ujiri, General Manager, Toronto Raptors, (AIF 2019):

Distributed by APO Group for the African Development Bank (AfDB) Group.

Delphine Vakunta,
Department of Communication and External Relations,
African development bank ;
E-mail: [email protected]

About the African Development Bank Group:
The African Development Bank Group (AfDB) is Africa’s premier development finance institution. It comprises three distinct entities: the African Development Bank (AfDB), the African Development Fund (ADF) and the Nigeria Trust Fund (NTF). Present in 37 African countries with an external office in Japan, the AfDB contributes to the economic development and social progress of its 54 regional member states.

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