Mo Bamba, who plays in the NBA, has renovated two basketball courts in his native Côte d'Ivoire and is committed to furthering the development of his native neighbourhood through sport.

Although born in New York, NBA player Mo Bamba has never denied his Ivorian origins. Drafted in 2018, he is also the first Ivorian in history to join the most prestigious basketball league in the world.

Last July, the Orlando Magic player signed a new 2-year, $21 million contract. A few weeks later, he walked for the first time, alongside his father Lanciné Bamba, on Ivorian soil to inaugurate the renovation of basketball courts that he funded. “I’m very happy to be at home, to meet all my family, it’s a lot of emotion,” said Bamba. The Orlando Magic player and his delegation were welcomed by the President of the Ivorian Basketball Federation (FIBB) before enjoying a crowd.

The promise of a commitment to the Ivorian community

It is within the framework of a citizen action that he wanted to undertake, in collaboration with the Ivorian Basketball Federation, that Mo Bamba programmed this trip to Côte d’Ivoire. The 2m13 player wishes to mark his attachment to the land of his people. And nothing better than doing it using his passion for basketball. Mo Bamba participated in the renovation of two basketball courts in the SOS village of Abobo. And it was during a solemn ceremony, in the presence of the Ivorian authorities, that these two sites were inaugurated on August 23, 2022.

This action will be used daily by more than 200 children who will have access to the two basketball courts, which comply with FIBA ​​specifications, but also to the whole village since the electricity and plumbing have been completely rehabilitated. The construction of the bleachers and the lighting, which has already begun, of the stadium are part of the second phase of the project. The daily use of the land will be partly supervised since Bamba will regularly participate in the programming of activities by videoconference Mahama Coulibaly, President of the FIBB, is the main adviser of the project.

“It’s a hugely personal project and I’m proud of how it’s all reflected in the courts,” Bamba said. “Everything, down to the smallest detail, is an important part of my life, from my African roots to my upbringing in Harlem, to the honor of my family who made it all possible. Mahama helped us identify some amazing local artists and architects who perfectly captured all the intersections of my heritage and I’m so grateful for all of their hard work.”

Besides the on-court signings and basketball clinics, Mo Bamba led a COVID awareness program alongside former U.S. Ambassador to Côte d’Ivoire, Mamadou Haidara, to encourage youth in the community to get vaccinated.

The Ivorian player also collected over 100 pairs of basketball shoes from his Orlando Magic teammates and 100 high performance insoles from Move Insoles to donate to the Ivory Coast basketball development program. Sourcing shoes larger than size 12 EU, especially for high-potential plus size players, remains a major supply chain challenge in Africa.

His commitment suggests a sustainability of his actions in Côte d’Ivoire: “I am not here in Abidjan to shake a few hands, take a few photos and transmit. I plan to be back next summer, and in the meantime, we have weekly after-school sports and academic programs that I will attend. It will develop elsewhere too,” said Bamba.

The dream of wearing the colors for his country of origin

In the various interviews given during his stay, the native of Touba (in the north-west of Côte d’Ivoire) clarified his desire to play with the national selection of elephants in Côte d’Ivoire: “It’s a dream is my dream and I hope one day to be able to play for my country,” said the player.

Photos’credit :