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NBA Royal Bafokeng basketball coaches selected to attend U.S. state department’s basketball exchange program in Washington, D.C.

The U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs has invited basketball coaches Junior Mmoloke and Tumi Ramocha, to be part of a South African delegation participating in a basketball Sports Visitor Exchange Program, taking place March 8-19, 2012, in Washington, D.C.
Both Mmoloke from Lebone High School and Ramocha from Keledi High School are coaches in the NBA Royal Bafokeng Basketball Program, a grassroots development program established in 2010 in partnership with the NBA.  They were to take advantage of this learning opportunity abroad, aimed at empowering and educating local coaches.

Technical Director and Head Coach of the NBA Royal Bafokeng Sport Program, Joby Wright handpicked 10 potential candidates for the exchange program, from which the final two were selected by the U.S. State Department.
As part of the two-week program, the coaches are meeting with U.S. sports professionals, work with young American athletes at local schools, participate in a NBA coaching clinic and conduct teambuilding and injury prevention activities in the Washington, D.C. area. The group will conclude their program in Nashville, Tennessee where they will watch regional basketball games and participate in Special Olympics sessions.

This event marks the fourth Sports Visitor Exchange Program between South Africa and the United States. In 2006, South African soccer players attended the Youth World Cup; in 2008, a delegation of South African baseball coaches came to the U.S. for training and clinics and in May 2011, South African female soccer players attended the Women’s World Cup.

Sports diplomacy builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s vision of “smart power,” embracing the use of a full range of diplomatic tools - in this case, basketball - to bring individuals together in order to foster a greater understanding of societal norms and cultures.

Mmoloke, for whom it is his first trip away from the African continent, is excited about this opportunity, saying “Firstly, I am hoping to use this experience to learn. The United States has successful programs that I would like to bring back and implement at Primary School level because in order to get the best out of athletes you need to groom them early, while also educating them about lifestyle, health and nutrition.”
Having been involved with teaching children with hearing disabilities in schools around Brits and Ga-Rankuwa in his native South Africa, Mmoloke is eager to take part in the Special Olympics program to further help children progress in the sport of basketball.
Ramocha, a female coach originally from Krugersdorp, never thought she would get an experience like this so early in her coaching career. “I am happy that the selectors saw my potential and believed in me enough to give me this opportunity, it’s a dream come true,” she said. “I am particularly interested in progressing my coaching career with the goal of coaching senior women’s teams in the future and this experience will teach me new skills and drills I can utilize back home.”
NBA Bafokeng Technical Director, Joby Wright has high expectations for the coaching duo, believing that they will benefit enormously from being exposed to basketball at the highest levels and is hopeful they will return to South Africa as better coaches, equipped to share their experiences with local coaches here at home.
“They need to use this experience to take notes and photos, to interact with people and ask questions of the people they meet. You can’t beat an awesome life experience like this and it can only make you a better person and a better coach. They are going to be exposed to things they have never seen before and this will broaden their thinking.”