Ambassador Cretz Welcome Remarks NBA Players Visit to the Embassy

Good morning colleagues and Embassy community,

It’s great to see all of you turn up this morning to take advantage of the rare opportunity to meet NBA management and players.

Born the Basketball Association of America, the NBA was created just a decade before Ghana’s independence, and I’ll note when Ghana was created it was the Warriors who won that year.  I don’t know if that has any bearing on the current NBA Finals, but stranger superstitions exist.  Back in 1946, there were no black players, but the league evolved quickly and welcomed African Americans in 1950.  This year they hit a record welcoming more than 100 international players from 32 countries and territories.

Serge and Gorgui may not realize that we, in fact, have a common mission with the NBA.  The NBA is about hard work, dedication, big dreams and inspiration of younger generations. Through President Obama’s Young African Leaders Initiative, the United States is investing in the next generation of African leaders, and has committed significant resources to enhance leadership skills, bolster entrepreneurship, and connect young African leaders with one another, the United States, and the American people.  I’ve had the pleasure of meeting several Mandela Fellows, and I can attest to the fact that these are individuals who inspire the same values that both the NBA and the US cherish.

As Ambassador I welcome all of you to Ghana.  I thank you for your efforts to nurture that dream, and inspire those you encounter in your clinics to be persistent and not give up. It’s an important lesson for all of us, but I know the time that the Ghanaian youth get to spend with you on the court today will be moments they treasure for the rest of their lives.

The NBA professionals’ willingness to serve as role models and mentors are important efforts that build bridges and partnerships from the United States to Africa. We recognize when the private sector partners to enhance youth engagement and opportunity, the outcome magnifies.  We’ve appreciated Coca-cola’s partnership in the past year on a number of occasions and welcome you to the embassy as well.   We look forward to watching your continued individual successes, this teams’ success and to watching the Ghanaian NBA fan base continue to grow.

I now welcome Yaw Sakyi  (procounced SACHI) Afari, coordinator of this week’s events to offer a few remarks.