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Sri Lanka’s national basketball players getting pointers and tips from the U.S. Sports Envoys.

From June 8-14, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, in collaboration with Foundation of Goodness and IImpact Hoop Lab, hosted a veteran National Basketball Association (NBA) player and veteran Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player as part of the U.S. Sports Envoy program.

During their trip to Sri Lanka, former NBA and WNBA stars Stephen Howard and Astou Ndiaye hosted training sessions for school-level basketball players and their coaches from across the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Uva provinces. Collaborating with the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation, they also led workshops for the national basketball teams, including both male and female squads, and their coaches. In addition, the Sports Envoys and staff from the U.S. Embassy renovated a girls’ changing room at a school in Colombo to help make basketball more accessible for young female athletes.

U.S. Sports Envoy to Sri Lanka Stephen Howard running drills with students from across the Northern, Eastern and Uva provinces.

The visit also featured motivational talks focusing on leadership and embracing failure as a crucial step towards success, aimed at inspiring young athletes to value leadership, teamwork, and dedication, both on and off the basketball court.

U.S. Sports Envoy to Sri Lanka Astou Ndiaye running drills with students from across the Northern, Eastern and Uva provinces.

Speaking at an exhibition game in Colombo for boys and girls who underwent intense coaching sessions with the U.S. Sports Envoys, Heidi Hattenbach, Counselor for Public Affairs at the U.S. Embassy, said “The U.S. Embassy is proud to contribute to empowering the next generation of leaders in Sri Lanka. Our Sports Envoys, Stephen and Astou, taught these youth about leadership and working together, including the importance of perseverance and learning from failure. They conveyed a powerful message: It’s not just about basketball; it’s about life. Embracing our failures equips us with the resilience and lessons to lead and succeed in any field.”

U.S. Sports Envoy to Sri Lanka Astou Ndiaye running drills with students in the Southern Province.

Summarizing what basketball has taught her, Envoy Astou Ndiaye shared the following words of encouragement for all the Sri Lankan youth she met during her visit, “Have the courage to write your own life story because all is possible with hard work.”

Reflecting on his visit, Envoy Stephen Howard said, “If I hadn’t visited Sri Lanka, I would never have known about the immense pride and heart that all Sri Lankans exhibit.  As much as I would like to think that I taught those that participated in the camps we administered, in the end, I learned just as much from them. I’m happy to say that being a Sports Envoy has allowed me to add new teammates and friends here in Sri Lanka.  Thank you for the amazing hospitality everywhere we visited.”

U.S. Sports Envoys Stephen Howard and Astou Ndiaye engaging in a community service project at the CMS Sri Jayawardenepura College.

About the U.S. Sports Envoy Program:  The U.S. Sports Envoy program, managed by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, sends professional American athletes and coaches overseas to engage in sports-based programming. These envoys lead sports clinics, participate in community outreach activities, and engage youth in dialogues on the importance of leadership, teamwork, and respect for diversity. The program aims to promote mutual understanding and build positive relationships between the United States and other countries through sports.

Sources by : U.S. Embassy in Sri Lanka

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