Mumbai, Feb 16 (IANS) Students and sports enthusiasts in Mumbai and Delhi will get a rare opportunity to interact with top US National Basketball Association (NBA) stars who are slated to visit the country Feb 22-March 2, an official said here Wednesday.
They include NBA Hall of Fame George ‘The Iceman’ Gervin and two-time Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) champ Katie Smith. They will conduct basketball clinics with Indian youths, meet university students and take part in local community events in different areas, a spokesperson of the events said.
The trip kicks off the US State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs and the NBA’s 2011 Sports Envoy Program, encompassing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s vision of ‘smart power diplomacy’ to foster greater understanding among people and cultures.
Gervin and Smith will attend the finals of the Mahindra NBA Challenge, the largest, multi-city basketball league in India, which the NBA conducts in collaboration with the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).
The Mahindra NBA Challenge finals is scheduled Feb 26 at the Don Bosco High School, Mumbai, and Feb 27 at the Oxford Senior Secondary School in New Delhi.
In addition to the events in India, current and former NBA and WNBA players will lead similar programs in the Dominican Republic, Haiti, Jordan, Republic of Congo, Uzbekistan, and Venezuela during the 2011 Sports Envoy Season. The full line-up of players will be released at a later date.
SportsUnited is the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ premier sports exchange program at the US State Department, launched in 2003.
Athletes and coaches in various sports are chosen to conduct clinics, visit schools, and engage youth overseas in a dialogue on the importance of education, positive health practices, and respect for diversity.
In the past eight years, SportsUnited has brought more than 600 athletes from 44 countries to the US to participate in Sports Visitor programs and since 2005, it has sent more than 100 US athletes to 40 countries to participate in Sports Envoy programs.