The National Basketball Association (NBA) has announced that former US president Barack Obama has joined its new African arm as a strategic partner.
The 44th President of the United States will also own a minority stake in NBA Africa, which officials say he intends to use for Obama Foundation projects across the continent.
Obama will help advance the organisation’s social responsibility efforts, including programs and partnerships that support greater gender equality and economic inclusion.
“The NBA has always been a great ambassador for the United States, using the game to create deeper connections around the world, and in Africa, basketball has the power to promote opportunity, wellness, equality, and empowerment across the continent,” said Obama.
NBA Africa runs the Basketball Africa League (BAL), which held its inaugural season in May featuring 12 of the top club teams from 12 African countries.
British-South Sudanese former NBA All-Star Luol Deng is also an investor in the project.
Obama to help NBA expand in Africa
The basketball organisation is focused on expanding its popularity within the African market, an area where European football is still king.
It hopes to continue to grow the sport through initiatives such as Jr. NBA, Basketball Without Borders (BWB) Africa and NBA Academy Africa.
“I’ve been impressed by the league’s commitment to Africa, including the leadership shown by so many African players who want to give back to their own countries and communities,” Obama added.
“That’s why I’m proud to join the team at NBA Africa and look forward to a partnership that benefits the youth of so many countries.”
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said: “We are honoured that President Obama has become a strategic partner in NBA Africa and will support our wide-ranging efforts to grow the game of basketball on the continent.”