The first Basketball Africa League (BAL) will debut on May 16th as the first NBA’s collaboration to operate a league outside North America. Twelve teams across Africa will play 26 games at Kigali Arena in Rwanda. One of the BAL’s goals is to use basketball as a tool for economic growth across the continent. By doing so, it will undoubtedly expand the popularity of basketball in Africa. The league aims to inspire a new generation of fans and transform African countries into influential sports hubs.
This launch is a way to develop local athletes instead of just exporting them. As a reminder, there were 13 African-born players on the NBA teams in the 2018/19 season. The number would increase to 40 if we include players with African parents.
Africa is the world’s youngest continent and thinking about the youth is also thinking about future development and fostering opportunities. It is about building up the next generation of talents on and off-court. Sports, in general, have a transformative way of educating, empowering, and inspiring.
The competition will attract the attention of companies that are interested in becoming part of something bigger. More investments will be needed, either for building adequate infrastructures, training athletes, and for nurturing the next generation of sports industry leaders in Africa.