Giants of Africa Show a Sport Can Change the World
More than basketball. This is the slogan displayed on the custom t-shirts of Giants of Africa coaches and staff this summer as they travelled around the continent. Founded in 2003 by Toronto Raptors President and General Manager Masai Ujiri, the Giants of Africa are out to show that a sport truly can make a difference in the lives of African youth.
Basketball Changes Lives
Although soccer is the most popular sport in Africa, Nigerian-born Ujiri knew the continent was full of basketball talent. The sport was growing in popularity, however, all these talented youngsters lacked experience, coaching and facilities to allow them to make it to the next level. Inspired by the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders program, Ujiri decided to start the Giants of Africa, a non-profit organization runs camps in six countries: Botswana, Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria, Rwanda and Senegal, providing quality facilities, equipment and coaches to help grow the game of basketball within Africa.
“When the Giants of Africa first started in 2003, the goal was to find the next Dikembe Mutombo or the next Hakeem Olajuwon,” says Giants of Africa Creative Director Wilson Duong. But after the first few camps, Ujiri became plagued by the question of what would happen to the kids who don’t make it to play basketball in North America. The organization then turned its focus from finding the next giants of basketball to providing life skills that can be used both on and off the court. “We communicate to the youth that even if you don’t make it the NBA as a player, you can use basketball as a tool to become something else related to the game,” says Duong.
Basketball as a Tool
For the Giants of Africa, basketball is more than just a sport. It serves as a tool to educate and enrich the lives of youth in Africa. More than just “making it”, the camps demand hard work, accountability and determination and provide leadership and teamwork skills that are necessary to succeed in life, not just in basketball.
How Entripy Helps
Since partnering with the Giants of Africa in 2015, Entripy has printed custom t-shirts and custom hoodies for the organization’s camps and special events. Branding and merchandise has become one of the great trademarks for the Giants of Africa.
“Our t-shirts have been a hit and people who see them usually ask where they can get one,” says Duong. Since the organization doesn’t do a lot of marketing, custom apparel is a great way to raise brand awareness in the local community and when they’re touring the African continent. “People are curious when they see a group of us wearing the same t-shirts,” says Duong.
On Friday, September 16th, the Giants of Africa documentary will premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Directed by award-winning Canadian documentarian Hubert Davis, the film follows Ujiri through the Giants of Africa’s camps in Ghana, Kenya, Nigeria and Rwanda. The film is yet another outlet for the organization to spread its message. Entripy was happy to provide these custom t-shirts for the documentary’s screening at TIFF allowing participants to show their support for the Giants of Africa. “We would like people to see what we’re trying to achieve through Giants of Africa and to show that Africa is a continent that has great hope,” says Duong.