NEW YORK – The National Basketball Association (NBA) is partnering with the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs (ECA) on a Sports Visitor program for 12 Burmese youth basketball players and two coaches. The group, which arrived in the U.S. on Jan. 7, will visit Washington D.C. and Charlotte, NC, where it will participate in clinics led by NBA players and personnel as well as attend live NBA games.
While in the nation’s capital, the Sports Visitors will attend the Washington Wizards game against the Atlanta Hawks on Jan. 12. The group will be on the court during pre-game shoot around and will have a chance to meet Wizards players. The group will then travel to Charlotte to attend the Jan. 19 Bobcats game against the Sacramento Kings, and will also participate in a clinic led by Bobcats General Manager Richard Cho, who was born in Burma.
Cho traveled to Burma in August 2012 as part of a State Department Sports Envoy program which helped identify the participants traveling to the U.S. Additional Sports Envoys on that trip included former WNBA player Allison Feaster, current Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, and former NBA player Marty Conlon.
“We had a great time in Burma last August introducing and growing the game of basketball,” said Cho. “As a Burmese-born immigrant to the U.S., it means a lot to me to be able to be a part of this program. I am excited to have these kids experience an NBA game, and I am looking forward to hosting them at my house later in the week for a Bobcats watch party.”
Additional programming for the Sports Visitors includes basketball immersion at the high school and collegiate level in both cities, as well as educational sessions on nutrition, conflict resolution, and disability sports.
This is the second basketball Sports Visitor program this season, with a group from South Sudan having come over in November. The NBA and U.S. Department of State have partnered on SportsUnited programming, which includes Sports Visitors and Sports Envoys, since 2005. Nearly 60 current and former NBA and WNBA players and coaches have traveled to 31 countries as Sports Envoys, and the NBA has helped host Sports Visitors from 20 countries in the United States.