By Strive Masiyiwa
More great news! Few of us in Africa had the opportunity to watch the pioneering talents of the amazing Hakeem Abdul Olajuwon (‘The Dream’ from Nigeria, inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame) and Dikembe Mutombo (an eight-time All-Star player from the DRC). Over the years, millions upon millions of fans could watch them play on TV in their prime, but most of us living in their home continent of Africa missed out…
This is all about to change!
Last month I shared the announcement that Kwesé Sports was awarded free-to-air broadcasting rights for the English Premier League in Sub-Saharan Africa. Today I’m excited to tell you that we’ve signed another exclusive big name in international sport — a multiyear partnership with the National Basketball Association (NBA).
This new deal, the largest ever for the NBA in Africa, will see Econet Media become the official broadcaster of the NBA in Sub Saharan Africa!
This means NBA content will be offered across our digital and mobile assets, including the much-anticipated Kwesé viewing platforms and its sports offering, Kwesé Sports!
We’re so proud to be involved with a renowned brand such as the NBA that shares our vision for sport in Africa, and our values as a company. The NBA’s trademark is “Compete with Intensity, Lead with Integrity, and Inspire Play.” That’s a winning goal for all of us to aim for!
Now basketball as a sport began in a snowy state in the USA in 1891, where a local athletic director was trying to think of an exciting game that could be played indoors (in a very cold climate) in a small space. He was looking for a sport that didn’t rely as much on strength as on agility and skill. The story goes that he thought of an idea – how about a game throwing soccer balls into two “goals” made of peach baskets, strung up on a wall with wire? Innovation! Dr. James Naismith is credited as basketball’s “inventor” back in the day. Now it’s a multibillion dollar sport!
Beginning within the 2016-2017 season, African basketball fans young and old will be able to enjoy a feast of their favourite sport, and this time it will be more convenient and accessible.
Kwesé Sports entertainment won’t be limited to live games. We’ll also produce a host of original NBA content to support our coverage of the NBA. Kwesé Sports will also carry the League’s 24/7 dedicated channel, NBA TV.
In the millennial year 2000, sports fan Nelson Mandela said: “Sport has the power to change the world. It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair.”
A gold-medal-winning Olympic athlete (and the first foreign-born player to win the NBA’s “Most Valuable Player,”) Olajuwon says his parents taught he and his siblings the importance of discipline and “to be honest, work hard, respect our elders, and believe in ourselves…”
I hope the next Luol Deng (South Sudan), Serge Ibaka (Congo Brazzaville) or Nneka Ogwumike (Nigeria) will be inspired by seeing their heroes perform daily on one of the world’s greatest sports stages. Stay tuned for more updates on Kwesé Sports online http://bit.ly/KweséSports_NBA
Image Caption 1: Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards/Team World) at NBA Africa Game at Ellis Park Arena in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 1, 2015.