The Foundation of Goodness is a holistic rural development model that seeks to bridge the urban-rural divide in Sri Lanka via 10 empowerment divisions across 900+ villages island-wide, and reached over 307,000+ beneficiaries in 2022 alone by way of 15 Empowerment Centres, free of cost.

Inspiring Youth through Sports: The U.S. Sports Envoy Programme in Sri Lanka

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From June 8-14, the U.S. Embassy in Colombo, together with implementation partner the Foundation of Goodness and the support of IImpact Hoop Lab, hosted a veteran National Basketball Association (NBA) player and a veteran Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player as part of the U.S. Sports Envoy programme. This initiative aimed to empower and inspire young athletes across Sri Lanka through training sessions, workshops, and community projects.

During their trip, former NBA star Stephen Howard and WNBA veteran Astou Ndiaye led training sessions for school-level basketball players and their coaches from the Northern, Southern, Eastern, Western, and Uva provinces. Collaborating with the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation, they also conducted workshops for the national basketball teams, including both male and female squads, and their coaches. These sessions were designed not only to hone basketball skills but also to emphasise the importance of leadership, teamwork, and perseverance.

In addition to the training sessions, the Sports Envoys and staff from the U.S. Embassy undertook a significant community service project by renovating a girls’ changing room at a school in Colombo District. This renovation was aimed at making basketball more accessible for young female athletes, thereby fostering inclusivity in sports. The project underscores the importance of providing proper facilities to encourage more girls to participate in sports.

The visit also featured motivational talks focusing on leadership and embracing failure as a crucial step towards success. These talks were aimed at inspiring young athletes to value leadership, teamwork, and dedication both on and off the basketball court. Sports Envoys, Stephen and Astou, taught these youth about leadership and working together, including the importance of perseverance and learning from failure. They conveyed a powerful message: It’s not just about basketball; it’s about life. Embracing our failures equips us with the resilience and lessons to lead and succeed in any field.”

Envoy Astou Ndiaye shared her wisdom with the Sri Lankan youth, encouraging them to “Have the courage to write your own life story because all is possible with hard work.” Stephen Howard reflected on his visit, expressing his admiration for the pride and heart exhibited by Sri Lankans. He stated, “If I hadn’t visited Sri Lanka, I would never have known about the immense pride and heart that all Sri Lankans exhibit. As much as I would like to think that I taught those who participated in the camps we administered, in the end, I learned just as much from them. I’m happy to say that being a Sports Envoy has allowed me to add new teammates and friends here in Sri Lanka. Thank you for the amazing hospitality everywhere we visited.”

The programme aims to promote mutual understanding and build positive relationships between the United States and other countries through sports. This initiative, implemented by the Foundation of Goodness, has made a profound impact on the young athletes of Sri Lanka, offering them valuable skills and life lessons that extend far beyond the basketball court. The Foundation of Goodness is proud to have been a part of this enriching experience, contributing to the development and empowerment of Sri Lanka’s future leaders through the power of sports

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