Kelley Cain

Kelley Cain

Former WNBA forward Kelley Cain has completed a one-week visit to Rwanda where she has motivated over 100 girls and some boys to play the game of basketball.

The tour was organised by NBA Africa in partnership with the US Embassy in Rwanda to spread awareness and promote women’s basketball.

Cain, who was selected in the first round of the 2012 WNBA draft by New York Liberty and also played for Connecticut Sun, toured the country to encourage girls to play basketball as well as share her life experiences as a female professional basketball player in the USA, Turkey and South Korea.

With her also on the tour was former Louisiana State University player Keia Howell with whom they capitalised on teaching the basics of basketball including dribbling, passing, shooting and defending among others in the Rwandan capital Kigali, Kayonza and Huye districts.

“I think I can bring hope because it is just a small number of people who can actually make it to the professional level but I just want the young girls to know that it is possible with hard work and determination. So I encourage them to keep going,” explained Cain in an exclusive interview with supersport.com.

Cain further added that, “Basketball opens up so many doors whether you go professional or not for example for the younger girls if they want to go to college in the States, you can play basketball and get somebody to pay that for you and that says a lot especially coming from abroad. For you to play basketball and get your education paid for. After you get your education, the possibilities are endless. That is what motivated me to play basketball.”

FaniMwiza, a teenage basketball player who was introduced to the game three years ago in the Kigali suburb of Nyamirambo admitted that after this visit she wants to play professional basketball and her dream is to play in the WNBA.

Howell who has been involved with NBA Africa and Basketball without Borders (BWB) has been to Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Verde and Uganda believes that the most important aspects are hard work, diligence and the excitement for the game.

“I understand that basketball in Africa is not as big as it is in the US but what we have tried to do is explain to the children that even for girls playing basketball in the US 40 or 50 years ago, it was not the popular thing to do. Basketball was looked at as sports for boys but now we come here to be role models for the girls and show them that you can still be a woman, feminine and play a sport. You can be tough and still have your role as a wife and as a mother.”

Cain and Howell met with officials from the Ministry of Sports and Culture as well as the Rwanda National Olympic and Sports Committee who promised to support the growth of women’s basketball in the country.