Barefoot Coach Alex Nwora travels to Cape Verde, Africa!
Coach Alex Nwora is not only the men’s basketball coach at Erie Community College, he is also head coach for men’s basketball in Cape Verde, Africa. On February 15th, he will coach the game at Erie CC in his bare feet to raise awareness and donations for Samaritan’s Feet.
Coach Nwora recently traveled to Cape Verde for a basketball camp. He also provided hundreds of children and young adults with shoes and t-shirts from Samaritan’s Feet. We asked Coach Nwora to share with our readers how he got involved with helping the underprivileged in Cape Verde, and his relationship with Samaritan’s Feet.
The camp in Cape Verde was called the “Elite Basketball Camp”. The camp was primarily sponsored by Cape Verde basketball Federation and a non-profit organization called Global Sports Advantage (globalsportsadvantage.org) that my wife and I founded in 2009. The purpose of this foundation was to give back to underprivileged children worldwide, helping them to understand the importance of athletics as a means to acquire education. To this end, Global Sports Advantage has held camps in Nigeria, the US, and Cape Verde – to name a few. These camps are free of charge to children between the ages of 5 and 25.
The camp in Cape Verde came about in part because of my relationship with the National Basketball Federation for the country. As the Head Men’s Basketball Coach for Cape Verde, I have had numerous opportunities to travel to the country and see, first hand, the needs of the children. To promote athletics and education, Global Sports Advantage arranged (with the help of the Cape Verde National Basketball Federation) to host this camp/clinic event over the holiday break. Initially, the camps were scheduled to occur on three islands in Cape Verde, but scheduling issues and holiday travel caused us to focus the camps on two islands.
Once the camps/clinics were in the planning stages, I had the opportunity to meet Manny and learn of Samaritan’s Feet. It seemed to be a natural fit to pair the two non-profit organizations for the benefit of the Cape Verde campers. Samaritan’s Feet generously donated 500 sneakers and t-shirts to be given out at the camps and orphanages.
The camps ran in two cities on two separate islands. The first camp was in Praia – the capital city of Cape Verde, and ran from December 20-23. This was the larger of the 2 camps, hosting 150+ children, all from in and around the city. Many of the children came to the camp with no shoes at all or only simple flip-flops. They had never even owned a pair of sneakers before, and they were truly grateful. They also enjoyed the t-shirts, many indicating that they felt “American”.
The second camp ran in Mandela from December 27-30, and was comprised of children from the more rural island of San Vincent. Unbelievably, this group of campers (approximately 100) was even more impoverished than the first group. All were thrilled to receive t-shirts and shoes courtesy of Samaritan’s Feet. The entire experience of the camp was well received by all the campers and families.
Unfortunately due to shipping problems, not all the shoes that was donated by Samaritan’s Feet made it to the island in time for the camps. These shoes will be shipped and distributed to the children in orphanages in February by the Cape Verde Basketball Federation. We are also anticipating another series of camps in the summer, when Global Sports Advantage can complete shoe distributions with a representative from Samaritan’s Feet (hopefully).
Overall, the camps were a great success in terms of the experience and donations. Volunteers who travelled from the US for Global Sports Advantage were myself (Alex Nwora), Lazare Adingono, Allison Slein (photographer), Amy Nwora, Jordan Nwora, and Ronni Nwora. We were assisted with arrangements and running of the camps by the Cape Verde National Basketball Federation.