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Celebrating Women in Basketball: In focus with Yenny Pinilla

BOGOTÁ (Colombia) - Former Colombian National Team player and coach Yenny Pinilla noticed a crucial need in her country. To address this issue, Pinilla and her team launched a new program, “Mini Basket a Domicilio.”

Born and raised in Colombia, Pinilla recognized that young athletes in her country lacked safe spaces and legitimate coaching. So, she applied to FIBA’s Basketball for Good initiative.

“That group of kids needed more support,” Pinilla said. “We have poor people and kids who can’t pay to go to academies for sport. I decided to give my proposal for Mini Basket.”

With the assistance of the FIBA Foundation, Pinilla and her team quickly launched a new program: “Mini Basket a Domicilio” (Delivering Mini Basket to Your Community).

The program provides coaching, a safe space to play basketball, and a slew of resources to more than 50 kids in Colombia who want to play the sport.

“We found a way to help kids who don’t have the same chances as others,” Pinilla said. “Mini Basketball makes a difference in their lives. It’s all about educating, empowering, inspiring, and supporting others. That’s the point of Basketball for Good and the legacy that I want to have in my program.”

After traveling to Argentina for a FIBA Mini Basketball Convention two years ago, Pinilla was inspired to apply to the FIBA Foundation and launch her program. It has since impacted so many lives, including her own.

“They accepted my proposal and supported me,” Pinilla said. “Together, we get to help an under-served community.”

Pinilla played basketball for 17 years, representing Colombia in various international tournaments. She retired in 2007 and has since been coaching and leading others through Pumas Basketball Club, an academy she runs in Bogotá.

“I really enjoy teaching the sport,” Pinilla said.

Pinilla has also been fortunate to follow the profound basketball career of her daughter, Camila Tapias, who played NCAA basketball at George Washington University for four seasons.

“Basketball has profoundly impacted my life in many ways,” Pinilla said. “Beyond the court, basketball has taught me so many life lessons, like the importance of resilience, teamwork, and sportsmanship. These lessons have helped me in athletic pursuits and in various aspects of my personal and professional life. It’s been more than a sport for me.”

Now helping to advance the sport to the next generation of athletes, Pinilla predicts a bright future for the sport among young girls and women.

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“Basketball contributes to women’s empowerment by challenging gender stereotypes,” she said. “It builds confidence, promotes health and fitness and produces role models. Through participation in basketball, women are contributing to positive social change.”

“Mini Basket a Domicilio” has run for four months and impacted numerous young girls in Colombia, much to Pinilla’s delight.

“I tell them to believe in themselves,” Pinilla said. “I tell them, ‘Stay coachable, stay fit and healthy, practice your fundamentals, be a team player, set goals, stay positive, seek inspiration, have fun and never give up. I tell them, ‘You know why you’re playing. You have to keep your head up and enjoy the game.’”

Pinilla now hopes her program’s initial success will lead to much more. She envisions closer to 500 kids involved in the program one day.

“I feel very, very happy,” Pinilla said. “This is an under-served community in Bogotá, and we get to inspire and empower them. I know that we can do that with basketball.”


The FIBA Foundation is the social and legacy arm of FIBA that addresses the role of sports particularly basketball in society, preserving and promoting basketball’s values and its cultural heritage