NBA Players Bring Joy of Reading and Freedom of Play to At-Risk Children in South Africa

NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children's Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)
NBA players interact with the children during the NBA Cares Court Dedication as part of the Basketball Without Boarders program on July 31, 2015 at the SOS Children’s Village in Ennerdale, South Africa. (Getty Images)

Last Friday, National Basketball Association players, legends and executives visited the Ennerdale location of SOS Children’s Villages (SOS), an organization that builds stable, loving families for orphaned, abandoned and other vulnerable children, as part of their ongoing commitment to support and strengthen communities in need.  This is the third consecutive year the NBA family has visited SOS, one of three organizations set to benefit from the first NBA Africa Game that took place this past weekend in Johannesburg, South Africa.

In celebration of the 13th annual Basketball without Borders (BWB) Africa and the NBA Africa Game, NBA players participated in a number of activities with local children, including playing soccer, drawing and dancing. The NBA family also took part in a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate a renovated local library and new basketball court made possible by NBA Cares and the National Basketball Players Association (NBPA) Foundation.

“I think the most important thing is to give children an opportunity play, an opportunity to get an education, an opportunity for a better future. And I think this is a wonderful place for you kids to accomplish that,” said Pau Gasol of the Chicago Bulls to the children present at the event.

Present at the event were NBA commissioner Adam Silver, Chris Paul (Los Angeles Clippers), Luol Deng (Miami Heat), Pau Gasol (Chicago Bulls), Marc Gasol (Memphis Grizzles) and other NBA players, coaches and executives.

 “Children don’t forget. Many of the youth we work with have been through trying and traumatic circumstances before finding their way to SOS,” said Siphiwe Maphanga, National Director of SOS Children’s Villages South Africa. “We are incredibly thankful for the NBA family’s unwavering commitment to support Ennerdale’s most vulnerable children. They are playing a pivotal role in the development of children who desperately need their support.”

For over 30 years, SOS Children’s Villages South Africa has supported children, families and communities through its family support and care programs, medical centers, and schools. The Ennerdale village, located south of Johannesburg, provides children the love and long-term support they need to shape their own futures. Since 2013, NBA players have visited this village as part of BWB Africa’s efforts to encourage positive social change throughout the African continent.

article by Lori Lakin Hutcherson (follow @lakinhutcherson)

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