Toronto, ON (September 15, 2021):
Giants of Africa and Masai Ujiri today announced a multi-year, 100-court investment in the infrastructure of basketball throughout Africa. This physical investment in the continent continues the foundation’s commitment to creating opportunity for youth in Africa through sports, and harnessing the power of the next generation to propel the continent forward.
Under the organization’s “Built Within” initiative, over ten new court builds and refurbishments will be unveiled across locations in Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania, Ivory Coast and Burkina Faso over the next three months. The remaining will be unveiled in years to come, and will be strategically located in underserved communities.
Empowered by the impact the game has had on his own journey, Ujiri co-founded Giants of Africa with aspirations to leverage basketball as a vessel for young boys and girls to Dream Big, and visualize opportunities for their future in Africa and around the world. Since its 2003 launch in Nigeria, the not-for-profit organization has expanded its footprint and programming across the continent and beyond the game. The organization has prioritized skills training and personal development from basketball, health and wellness, to leadership and social impact.
“Since we began investing in the future of sports in Africa over the last two decades, it became clear that camps and programming were not enough to create long-term opportunities for growth in sports,” said Masai Ujiri, president of Giants of Africa. “These public spaces have the power to unite communities, build togetherness and improve quality of life for all people.”
Reiterating the organization’s promise to the youth of Africa, Ujiri continued, “Sports are one of the best ways that we can help our young people achieve their goals and I look forward to hearing the stories of the thousands of young people who will be able to utilize these courts to help make their communities stronger over the next ten years and beyond.”
The court unveilings will each include remarks from community leaders and youth who will be using the courts, a welcome from local dignitaries, a motivational speaker and free basketball gear for staff and youth attendees provided by Nike. A basketball clinic conducted by NBA coaches and personnel including Jama Mahlalela, Patrick Engelbrecht, Patrick Mutombo, Sarah Chan, Godwin Owinje and Joe Touomou will close out each event.
The new courts will be built in partnership with Sport Court International, LLC, a pioneer in the concept of backyard modular sports surfaces.
“Athletics can not only play a role in shaping the lives of future generations, they can also build entire communities,” said Lauren Gillian, Director of Partnerships & Community Relations at Sport Court. “We are so pleased to be partnering with Giants of Africa as they work to increase long-term access to the power of sport to youth throughout Africa.”
MasterCard foundation will be supporting this year’s efforts along with IAMGOLD, who will be contributing to this initiative over the coming years.
For more information on the initiative and to follow along as each court is unveiled, join the Giants of Africa online community at www.GiantsofAfrica.org or follow @GiantsofAfrica and #BuiltwithinTour on Instagram.
About Masai Ujiri
When his friends and classmates in Nigeria were playing soccer, Masai Ujiri was watching highlights of Hakeem Olajuwon. His love of the game brought him to college in the United States, and when his career on the court was complete, his career off-court began.
He started on the ground as a scout, working for teams traveling the world and searching for talent in gyms all over the globe. Masai was named general manager of the Denver Nuggets in 2011, becoming the first African GM in pro sports, and won the 2013 NBA Executive of the Year award. In Toronto, he has served as director of global scouting and assistant general manager, and in 2013, Masai was named president of the Toronto Raptors. In 2021, after signing a new contract, Masai added the role of vice-chairman of the club to his responsibilities as team president.
Under his leadership, the Raptors won the 2019 NBA Championship, the first team outside the United States to do so.
Masai has said that while he is proud to be the first African team president in North American sports, he would consider it a failure if he was the last: “Being first is good, but I don’t want to be the only one. There have to be more.” Masai’s belief in equity and diversity is reflected in his organization: he has committed to hiring women, and recently creating the position of vice-president of organizational inclusion and diversity.
Masai has served as director of the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders Africa program. He has travelled with the Prime Minister as part of the Canadian delegation to the 2019 African Union meetings. He has been named Toronto’s most influential person, and his urging of citizens to “believe in this city – believe in yourselves” is often cited as a rallying cry. He serves on the advisory board of the Dallaire Institute for Children, Peace and Security, an organization focused on eradicating the use of child soldiers. Masai and his wife, Ramatu, live in Toronto with their three children.
In 2003, Masai co-founded Giants of Africa, an organization which uses sport as a tool to enrich the lives of youth on the continent, and create opportunities for them on and off the court. Masai’s ethos is to “Dream Big,” and now GOA connects with youth – both boys and girls – in more than 17 African countries and territories.
The summer of 2018 marked 15 years of the organization, and that July, Masai and former U.S. President Barack Obama opened the Giants of Africa court at the Sauti Kuu Foundation Sports,
Resource and Vocational Training Centre, in Alego, Kenya. In summer 2022, the inaugural Giants of Africa Festival will bring together 200 youth from 11 countries in Africa to Kigali, Rwanda for a week-long celebration of basketball, education, culture, and entertainment.
In 2020, Masai launched thatshumanity.org, inspired by his experiences and the lessons learned from leaders like Nelson Mandela. “For me,” he says, “it’s about seeing each other. Really seeing. Trying to understand what someone else is going through. And helping if we can. Even if it’s just a kind word. Some encouragement. That’s humanity.”
About Sport Court International, LLC
Sport Court pioneered the concept of the modular outdoor game court in 1974. Thoughtfully engineered, manufactured, and tested in Salt Lake City, our premium surfaces are the safest and most durable on the market. Our focus is on quality and safety.
Today, Sport Court surfaces can be found across the US and in more than 170 countries on all seven continents. We have the largest network of CourtBuilders that will help you every step of the way. From backyard game courts to high-school gyms and facilities, to outdoor courts at Parks & Recreation districts around the world, Sport Court builds high quality, safe courts designed to bring out maximum potential of athletes of all ages.