Department of State and NBA Team Up for Basketball Diplomacy Program for Youth Athletes and Coaches from the Philippines

MIAMI – The U.S. Department of State will host sixteen youth basketball players and two coaches from the Philippines for an exchange program focused on leadership and community development in Miami, Florida and Washington, DC.

This Sports Visitor program supports the State Department’s sports diplomacy work to open opportunities to youth around the world in an effort to promote positive social change.

Sports transcend language, economic and social barriers; build a strong foundation of understanding between people of different cultures; and forge life-long relationships. Six of the athletes participating in the program represent communities devastated by Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan).

From March 18 – 31, the athletes and coaches will visit Miami, Florida and Washington, D.C. for a series of clinics and activities designed to emphasize the importance of education, teamwork, and respect for diversity.

While in Miami, NBA Miami Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra will work closely with the group to provide basketball clinics, facilities tours and pre-game interaction with current Heat players.

Coach Spoelstra, a Filipino-American, served as a State Department Sports Envoy to the Philippines in 2009, and has helped lead the NBA’s efforts to support typhoon victims. In Washington, DC, the participants will take part in basketball training and games with U.S. student athletes and visit area schools to learn how athletic involvement is linked to academic success. They will also engage in activities that promote volunteerism, teamwork, community building, and youth development, fostering the skills needed to assist their families and communities recovering from Typhoon Yolanda.

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