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Basketball camp builds a better future

© UNICEF/2005/Koch
UNICEF facilitators lead a seminar to promote HIV/AIDS awareness.

By David Koch

NEW YORK, 1 September 2005 – They came from 30 counties across Europe. 50 of the continent’s most promising under-18 basketball players gathered in the northern Italian city of Treviso - just outside Venice - to participate in Basketball without Borders.

The four-day basketball camp is run jointly by the National Basketball Association and the International Basketball Federation, or FIBA, with UNICEF’s participation. The campers were chosen based on their basketball skills, leadership ability and dedication to the sport.

Campers receive instruction and inspiration from both coaches and players from the NBA and FIBA. Pro players attending in Treviso included Gordan Giricek and Andrei Kirilenko of the Utah Jazz, Primoz Brezec of the Charlotte Bobcats, Zaza Pachulia from the Milwaukee Bucks, and Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.

© UNICEF/2005/Koch
NBA pro players gather at the Basketball Without Borders camp.

Campers are able to interact with their role models from the big leagues and learn important lesions about friendship, diversity, character building and healthy living. And this is where UNICEF comes in, to hold an awareness-raising session about HIV/AIDS.

UNICEF’s presentation – held in five languages – was the first opportunity many players had had to discuss and learn about HIV/AIDS with their peers, and the session provided an important forum to dispel myths and preconceptions surrounding the epidemic.

Since its inception in 2001, almost 500 campers have participated in the summer event, which now takes place not only in Europe, but also in Africa, Asia and the Americas.

© UNICEF/2005/Koch
Campers put their skills to the test.

The United States Fund for UNICEF and the NBA have a growing relationship that includes partnership on two of the Basketball without Borders camps. Many players support UNICEF outside the summer camps, demonstrated this past year by the many multi-player and team donations to the tsunami affected regions in Asia, and to the areas devastated by hurricane Ivan the Caribbean.

“The main thing we’re trying to tell the campers is that you’ve got to work hard, be tough-minded…and that you can never give up, no matter what happens,” said Primoz Brezec of the Bobcats.

By engaging young athletes about the importance of sport both as a catalyst for personal development and a platform to raise awareness of critical social issues such as HIV/AIDS, a new generation of role models is rising to help build a better future, for every child.




1 September 2005:
David Koch reports on the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders programme.

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