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More than 20 Years
In the summer of 2017, Hoops4Kids, Inc celebrated 20 years of helping children in Niger, US, Benin and Mexico. Hoops4Kids held events in Niger and the USA. During the 20 years of existence, Hoops4Kids provided a free camp to more than 1,000 kids. Among many things, Hoops4Kids taught young boys and girls the importance of taking care of their health, Taught children the fundamentals of basketball. Established a relationship with the Ministry of Sports and Culture, the National Basketball Federation of Niger , the Basketball League of Niamey and Youth Basketball organization to continue working with students during the school year. We also extended the program in two Nigerien cities (Dosso and Tillabery). We invited two high school students from Niger to attend the Koubek Basketball Camp in New York. We have donated basketball materials to several youth organizations and also to the basketball league and Basketball Federation. We also brought two American college coaches to Niger to help Nigerien coaches improve their coaching skills.
According to the United Nations Development Program, Niger is one of the least developed countries in the world. Niger’s natural obstacles to growth include its landlocked position, limited arable land, and the vulnerability of its agriculturally based economy to the harsh, drought-prone climatic conditions. UNICEF states that 63% of the population in Niger lives under the poverty level. There is a high rate of illiteracy in Niger and women only have a 6.6% literacy rate. The educational system in Niger is defunct. With 49% of the population under fifteen years old, Niger could soon be a country in crisis. Many women in Niger do not have the opportunities that the women in the United States and other countries have. According to UNICEF, half of the girls in Niger are either pregnant or they have a child by the time they reach seventeen. After our last program evaluation and from talking with people who are still involved with basketball and youth in Niger, we identified the following areas that need help and need to be addressed:
LACK OF BATHROOMS HINDER GIRLS PARTICIPATION: The lack of bathroom is prevalent. This is less serious for males (because of biology) but makes it more difficult to girls to play - no private place to go to the bathroom . It is more difficult for girls when they are menstruating. This is a problem that goes far beyond sports - it is a big problem in rural schools and one of the reasons girls do not stay in schools.
LACK OF MATERIALS: The lack of basketball is a major issue. Hoops4kids sends basketballs, bags, sneakers, basketball nets and shirts donated by the YBOA organization. There are schools (secondary schools) in the regions that have one or no basketballs. During the Hoops4kids camp in Dosso, the majority of kids don’t have sneakers.
CLEAN WATER AND SNACKS: Many adults and children in Niger suffer from illness from malnutrition and from contaminated water.
TRANSPORTATION: Many kids walk long distances to attend either, practices, camps, or games. Hoops4kids would like to provide transportation so kids don’t have to walk miles to basketball events.
BASKETBALL COURTS: Many schools that would like to have basketball teams cannot afford to build a court. Some who have basketball courts are not well maintained (i.e. surface is cracked). As a result, kids do not have a place to play basketball.
COACHES: Many coaches in Niger lack training and as a result, some teams share coaches. This often results in coaches having to run between games when both of their teams are playing.
UNIFORMS – Many youth basketball organizations and schools don't have them at all. Some have only one color. Most of the time, two teams are playing wearing the same color uniform (for example only yellow uniforms).
INVITING KIDS TO ATTEND BASKETBALL CAMPS IN THE US.: The first experience was a huge success. Thanks to the Koubek Camp and the Shen Boys Basketball organization, Hoops4kids was able to bring Adam and Marie to attend the 2013 Brant Lake overnight summer Koubek Basketball camp. Hoops4kids would like to recruit even more children to attend basketball camps in the US.
REFEREES: The lack of qualify refs brings a safety concern during youth games. It will be a great idea to train former players to become refs.