Brotherhood in Chad through the Shared Passion of a New Sport

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Brotherhood in Chad through the Shared Passion of a New Sport

Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Develop, through a minimal-cost, self-sustainable basketball league, both brotherhood and global outlook among youth whose ethnicities are traditional enemies.

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Positioning of your initiative on the mosaic diagram:
Which of these barriers is the primary focus of your work?

Stereotyping that excludes

Which of the principles is the primary focus of your work?

Social cohesion

If you believe some other barrier or principle should be included in the mosaic, please describe it and how it would affect the positioning of your initiative in the mosaic:

This field has not been completed

What is your signature innovation, your new idea, in one sentence?

Develop, through a minimal-cost, self-sustainable basketball league, both brotherhood and global outlook among youth whose ethnicities are traditional enemies.

Describe your innovation. What makes your idea unique and different than others doing work in the field?

La Ligue de Basket-ball d'Ati was founded in 2001 based on the idea of teaching several interested youth how to play basketball. The league quickly grew to incorporate players from all over our town of Ati, Chad, resulting in the establishment of both a youth (under 15) and young adult league. We are faced with not only dealing with children and youth with virtually no spending money (many living on less than $200/yr) but who also come from different ethnic and tribal backgrounds that have been and currently are at odds with each other throughout Chad's various civil wars and rebellions. We offer a venue through which kids can abandon the racially focused ways of their parents. The season is a learning process; by the end of the season players learn to be loyal to the members of their team regardless of ethnic background. Volunteer referees and coaches act as mentors to younger players both on and off the court.

What are the existing barriers, the biggest problem, your innovation is hoping to address/change?

Racial tensions are high in Chad, especially in our town of Ati, where an Arab population is the majority in a community of Ouaddai, Hadjerai, Zaghawa, Bilala, Sara, Goran, Fulata, among several others--many of whom have at one point or another been allied in political factions warring against each other. Each of Chad's presidents has been of a different ethnicity and has shown (in some cases, very violent and extreme) favoritism towards his religious or ethnic group.

Delivery Model: How do you implement your innovation and apply it to the challenge/problem you are addressing?

We ensure that teams include members of different ethnicities (which, in Ati, have naturally segregated themselves into separate neighborhoods). Our referees are from different areas of Chad and are trained to encourage fair treatment of all players regardless of ethnicity or other factors, like socio-economic standing.

How do you plan to grow your innovation?

The main obstacle at the moment is that the community basketball court used for all basketball activity is run-down and too expensive for the youth themselves to sustain. Once a more permanent terrain is secured, we will leave it up to the players and referees in the Ati community to run things their way--at minimal costs and following organization styles of the well-experienced local soccer league. The project does not end in Ati; our participants, no matter where they travel in the future, will have the shared passion of basketball with youth from across Chad, Africa, and the world as a commonality and bonding point.

Provide one sentence describing your impact/intended impact.

We've given youth in our community a new passion and venue for personal development that will positively affect their future roles in communities across Chad.

What impact has your innovation had to date/or what is your intended impact? Exactly who are the beneficiaries?

The beneficiaries, first and foremost, are the youth who have participated as players and fans in our league. They benefit physically, through regular athletic activity and the development of excercise habits; socially, by learning to respect peers of other ethnic backgrounds and to work together towards a common passion; and mentally, by realizing another way in which they can relate, through the global sport of basketball, to youth from other areas of Chad and all over the world. In the case of many participants, an interest in basketball has led to the desire to keep up with international basketball results and has, in turn, inevitably exposed individuals to media covering the political and economic affairs of an ever-globalizing world. Tuning in to a feature story on Desgana Diop, for example, educates the viewer/listener on everything from the status of Senegal during Diop's childhood to his struggles in adapting to life in a new country to the ways in which he is giving back to Senegal today.

How many people have you served directly?

We have had the blessing of an estimated 300 participants on 30 teams during six youth and young adult basketball seasons between the years of 2001 and 2005, when the court was no longer in functional condition. In 2001, we also trained Ati's first-ever girl's sports team, a basketball team of around 16 girls. In light of repeat participants in the leagues, the total number of directly served people is closer to 190.

How many people have you served indirectly?

Referees and other league staff (volunteer statisticians, coaches, administrators, etc.) often benefit just as much as the players. This would be around 20 people through the four years of league function. However, several family members and league fans have positively benefitted from the presence of the league, and there is no way to estimate this number (games drew crowds between 20 and 400 spectators).

Please list any other measures reflective of the impact of your innovation?

Several participants have gone on to study in other parts of Chad, and have already used the sport of basketball as a building block to meet new friends, often of different ethnicities. One great example of this is my good friend Tahir, a participant since the very first games in 2001 who now actively plays basketball with new friends while attending college in Benin.

What are the main barriers to creating or achieving your impact?

Rising ethnic/political tensions in Ati and Chad in general over the past few years are without doubt a constant barrier to promoting ideals of open-mindedness and peace to the youth in our community. Youth are faced with the challenge of finding a balance between the ideas they here at home and the new friendships and experiences they encounter at the basketball court. Financially, the lack of a permanent court is the most immediate obstacle to league success and the realization of our goals.

How is your initiative financed (or how do you expect your initiative will be financed)?

Around $250 has been spent by Cooperation Services International, my father's NGO, to maintain the court surface and goals throughout the league's existence. I paid 2 professional referees about $50 per young adult season (~24 games); however, through a system of volunteers from the young adult league we are able to referee the youth league free of cost. The one-time construction of a permanent court is the only aspect of the initiative requiring outside funding. The attached document is a plan that some Emory students and I worked on for an African Economic Development class in the fall of 2006 and details a funding strategy for a new court, as well as ways for the league itself to fund supplies like jerseys and balls.

If known, provide information on your finances and organization.

The league has no regular source of funding outside of its own members, which can be expected to contribute 200 FCFA (~$0.40) per season. As part of our league experience, we often hosted videos of basketball games and documentaries to develop players' character and knowledge of the game. These events were virtually free to organize, as we used already-existing VCRs/DVD players/TVs, which are relatively accessible, even in a rural town like Ati. The Chadian government itself is obliged to provide athletic instructors if and when referees must be trained. Although the government is very inconsistent and generally unreliable, a government athletics official helped train a municipal Ati team to compete in the Chadian national basketball tournament (which, like the other events of the 2004 Semaine Nationale, the National Sports Week, was eventually cancelled due to lack of funds at the government level).

What is the potential demand for your innovation?

Our system of a minimal cost, self-sustainable basketball league can be duplicated virtually anywhere a basketball court is already in existence or has the financial potential to be constructed. Basketball happened to be a new sport for Ati and a way in which I could teach through my own athletic experience. However, similar goals could be accomplished in any another sport: soccer, volleyball, handball, etc. Towns and villages across Chad would be very welcoming towards such initiatives.

What are the main barriers to financial sustainability?

High rates of poverty and relatively high costs of supplies (particularly basketballs) are the most immediate barriers to financial sustainability. However, once basketball (or any other sport) gains popularity in a community, local merchants will bring more basketball supplies into town, which will become cheaper as the local demand is met. Financial sustainability is detailed further in the attached document.

The Story
What is the origin of this innovation? Tell us your story.

I moved from N'Djamena to Ati with my family at age 13 in 2000. One of my dad's first friends in Ati, the government Sports and Culture Delegate, enrolled me on a local soccer club that participated in the government-sponsored town soccer league. Throughout the season, various members of the team told me that they wanted to learn how to play basketball. The following year, team captain Abakar and I organized a four-team young adult basketball league (we had hosted basketball instruction clinics the previous spring). We enjoyed some intriguing and competitive games the first season, and by the last season of the young adult league in 2003, teams were scoring a combined 82.7 ppg, up from 55.0 ppg the first season. The youth league began in late 2001 as a result of demand from younger players for their own organized tournament. By this time the basketball league not just an experiment--it had established itself as one of the town's premier venues for athletic development and competition. This was especially true for the majority of our youth league participants, who were too young to participate in the government soccer league (which even folded temporarily from 2003-2005). As a result, we were blessed with the unique opportunity of having heavy involvement from young players from all over Ati who many of the older players (and thus volunteer referees) were able to mentor not only in basketball skill development but also in how to manage attitudes on and off the court.

Please provide a personal bio. Note this may be used in Changemakers marketing material.

Born in Dallas, Texas, Bentley Brown moved with his family to the Republic of Chad in 1999 for his father to work as a medical doctor with in an NGO in the rural town of Ati. Bentley is currently pursuing a degree in International Studies at Emory University with a focus on Economic Development and Public Health.

How did you hear about this contest and what is your main incentive to participate? (this is confidential)

A former classmate at Emory and current CARE employee told me about the contest. It seemed like a wonderful opporunity to advocate on behalf of friends and league participants for the basketball project that began over six years ago.

Affiliation (please list all that apply)

Emory University