Ugandan basketball is on the rise, and this is very founded given recent success on the continent with the Silverbacks and recently the City Oilers who clinched a ticket to the Basketball Africa League.
The major worry about all this is sustainability as a couple of top stars like Jimmy Enabu and Ben Komakech are in the evening of their careers.
But the future looks bright according to Brian Nsambu who is nurturing and giving kids exposure through his Rise Basketball Community program.
The initiative is a basketball youth programme that is meant to expose kids to play the game.
It attracts many youngsters who are yet to play for any team, those from schools and those that have learnt on their own.
“So I always look for a way on how I can help such a community for them to grow in the scheme and get to expose themselves, get to open up more opportunities for them,” Nsambu opened up with The-SportsNation.
“We have some of them who are still struggling in terms of education and this talent can help them study on scholarships.
It can also help them get opportunities to play for clubs.
On Monday, Nsambu organised another exposure clinic where players registered as individuals and then grouped into teams for a whole-day event at YMCA in Wandegeya.
“We did this because players have been affected by different tournaments where you form up a tournament for example U-18 and then you are having some guys are going to bring their own team, they are playing whole day and they are better then anyone.
“So at the end of the day these kids who are looking for exposure, they don’t get to play to their best, they are playing with people who are well versed and experienced.”
Nsambu added that the programme is meant to bring the kids to light for them to rise up and also open up more opportunities for them.
The programme has been active for four months, set up after Nsambu moved to different courts to associate with different kinds of players where he got to realise that there are many kids on some court who are not attached to any team.
“I came up with a community programme that is called Elite basketball community programme where they get to subscribe, to come and play as a team,” he revealed.
“So I have been moving them to different places; districts like last month we were in Mbale to make sure they get to play under a coach and under a team setting. We get friendlies with Universities to make sure they get a better challenge.”
Joining Nsambu’s project is free of charge and anyone can join at anytime irrespective of his/her skill level.
Nsambu has not had a big experience as far as Basketball is concerned but has been in basketball for a very long time.
He added: “Ever since I was young I was really so passionate at teaching, leadership. I have also worked with Watoto, Tropical Royals and under different coaches.
“I have worked with Makerere University, YMCA and different high school teams to make sure I get to grow in the game.
“As a coach, I have not got that big experience in the league. But I have worked out with some experienced players in the league so I’m familiar with all ages.”
Amidst all this, Nsambu says that his biggest challenge has been funds. “Because we now normally move to different regions and I have to organise funds for fuel among others.
“Some of the players come from families where they are not so much well off so you have to find a way of providing some necessities.”
He is currently running the programme alone and with the help of some coaches and hopes for all to be well in the future.
On why he can’t seek help from Basketball Governing body in Uganda, FUBA, Nsambu explained: “Being that it’s something building up, it needs to be grow and get established first. But am getting a little support from Fuba; when I need umpires they give them to me, they also gave me permission to run the programme.”
Nsambu holds training sessions from Monday to Friday where he meets with different players. “We have plenty of them who are in day schools, some around Kampala, some are institutions like YMCA, Universities. So I improvise with some around and those that in school.”
“The whole Vision is more of a development. My aim is to see each player reach that high level and their full potential. It’s more of an exposure when you see like in USA there a lot of academies where kids get exposed.
On Monday at YMCA, more than 90 kids attended the event, with none attached to any club in the FUBA divisions.