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71 international youths developing their skills and leadership potential in Gaborone
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71 international youths developing their skills and leadership potential in Gaborone

Gaborone - A highly successful second edition of the IBF 3x3 Young Lions Cup came to an end in Gaborone Botswana this past week-end.

Zimbabwe defended their titles and remained winners of both the girls’ and boys’ categories. Host Botswana made it to the final in both categories to the great pleasure of the huge crowd present. The atmosphere was amazing over both days of games. There were some traditional dances during game breaks and a performance from a local star ‘Scar’ during the closing ceremony.

Godfrey Tsomondo and Tadiwa Mabika, both of Zimbabwe were elected MVP of the tournament. Burundi’s Landra Nduwamahoro won the shoot out contest while Athony Dingani brought a medal home for Zambia by winning the dunk contest.

The IBF leadership award was won by Petrina Aron of Namibia who showed impressive enthusiasm and a great leadership spirit. She expressed her gratitude at being part of the program "The Tournament was really great, it was full of excitement. I believe that everyone enjoyed it. I had fun. Thank you to everyone who made it possible for us and who put a smile on our faces and thank Botswana and Madame President [Boineelo Hardy] for welcoming us".

The weekend was highlighted by a Youth Leadership Workshop which taught leadership but also life skills, sexual education and financial literacy.

Workshop facilitator Thandi Tumelo explained, “The difference between a good and a great basketball player is something inside that needs to be discovered and developed. It goes beyond knowing the skills or being physically fit to endure. To be a great player begins with being a great person. The life skills through sport workshop worked with the 71 athletes to introduce them to tools for discovering and developing the greatness in each of them. A greatness that can inspire them to do basketball for good".

The workshop was appreciated by all participants. Patrina Aron stated, "What I really liked were the life skills sessions. They really taught me a lot, communication and even relationship wise. We also talked about sexual education and that you always have to put yourself in other people’s shoes and not judge them based on their appearance. It taught me that it’s not only about skills but in the end it’s really about who wants it more, who’s really hungry for it. In basketball we fight, it teaches you to have heart".

Jean-Michel Ramaroson, President of the Africa Committee of National Federations and member of the IBF board supported the Workshop "beyond its sporting aspect, which according to me was a total success, the educational aspect of the program gave it another dimension, demonstrating that basketball's power can improve and transform this youth".

A referee workshop was held in parallel to the tournament. During three days, 17 referees from 4 different countries worked on their knowledge of rules and regulations. They were able to put their knowledge into practice during the games of the Young Lions Cup. They learned about the 3x3 philosophy and the importance of the referee in this new Olympic discipline. FIBA 3x3 expert Eric Bertrand who taught the workshop explained "the idea is for these referees to go back to their respective countries and to train other local referees on the regulations and on court practices".

Boineelo Hardy, Botswana Basketball Federation President exclaimed "the project empowers athletes in a way unmatched. I love it! Many young lives are touched and forever shaped. Basketball's future is certainly bright because these players are future national team players and basketball administrators and officials. I am excited about the future"

IBF Director Florian Wanninger concluded, "the second edition was a complete success in terms of participation and basketball level. The event was complemented by an inspirational Youth Leadership Workshop where young players were taught life skills and healthy living. We look forward to the third edition".

The IBF would like to thank the Spadone family whose generous donation made the event possible, as well as Molten and Peak who provided playing balls and playing uniforms.