CINEPLEX EVENT CINEMAS
Release Date: April 7, 2017 (limited) 1h 17m | Documentary Premiered at TIFF 2016
It is rare to see a documentary with such hope and empowerment which contains insights and wisdom for the world.
Director Academy Award nominee 2005, Hubert Davis (for the short doc Hardwood about his father and former Harlem Globetrotter Mel Davis) worked with Toronto Raptors general manager and president Masai Ujiri on a journey across the gyms of Ghana, Rwanda, Kenya and Ujiri’s native Nigeria. Using the art of basketball to inspire and create a safe place for disadvantage youth, many who had been through terrible experiences and helping them to learn to believe in themselves and to become “leaders great and small” and be respectful of women was some of the training in basketball camps. As Masai Ujiri says: “Believing in themselves is all the youth need to change the world.”
In 2003, Ujiri created the philanthropic group Giants of Africa, which helps select athletes hone their basketball skills in intensive camps and workshops. The group has expanded from Nigeria to four countries and plans to increase that number to six in the coming years.
Some of the stories told by the youth are very touching and show a greatness of spirit and increasing confidence and empowerment. One young man practiced with an imaginary basketball to hone his skills, not having access to a real basketball. Another had to flee from Boko Haram with his family, often not having enough to eat. Through the help of the Giants of Africa, he was able to return to school. Others came from one of the largest slums in the world and throughout the documentary showed hope and confidence in themselves.
The coaches, some from the NBA and were African born, came to give back to their former countries and support the youth in the hopes that they would also give back to their countries.
As Masai Ujiri says: “Aspire to be great no matter what you do.”
This is a wonderful documentary which provides an empowering guide and example for communities all over the world.