OneHope Launches Basketball Clinics in Central African Republic
Ministry's Mission Includes Helping National Team Qualify for the Olympics
Hoping to help restore an impoverished nation’s hope through a sport that many in the country love, a Florida-based ministry has launched a basketball outreach program in the Central African Republic.
With the approval of CAR’s government, OneHope is sending a team of about 15 people to teach basketball and the Gospel to the country’s school children this month.
The ministry, whose mission statement is primarily about sharing God’s love to kids, has one other task at hand on this trip – taking the first steps toward training a national basketball team in order to not only return to its past glory, but to help it qualify for the Olympics.
CAR won the African Championship in 1974 against Senegal and again in 1987 after defeating Egypt. However, the country has been ravaged in recent years by civil war, corruption and extreme poverty.
OneHope president Rob Hoskins first scouted the country some time ago and was shocked by the country’s devastation. However, what also surprised him was how much passion its people had for the sport of basketball.
“With civil war and a number of rebels that have just destroyed and decimated the country over the last 10 years they’ve got nothing,” Hoskins told The Christian Post. “For us to even help field a team that could compete at the Africa continental level would be a huge ray of hope and bring some confidence and some pride back into the country that they haven’t had for years.”
Children who would have been shooting basketball ended up shooting guns as child soldiers, officials at OneHope said.
“We were there meeting with the government and the church,” Hoskins said. “We were just amazed at how in love the country is with the sport of basketball.”
For this mission and the project, OneHope will be partnering with former Florida State University basketball star Adrian Crawford and a mission team from Connection Pointe Christian Church in Indiana, as well as the Central African Republic National Basketball Team.
The group will be conducting basketball clinics for hundreds of kids in the nation's capital of Bangui. OneHope said its leaders will teach the fundamentals of the game, build skills, develop teamwork, instill character and “bring hope to the hurting children of the Central African Republic by sharing the message of the Bible.”
OneHope will also be delivering 5,000 basketballs to schools in the country on this first trip.
“We are looking at this being a long-term relationship with the government there. They want us to keep sending teams there. They actually want us to help train the national team there to help them qualify for the Olympics,” Hoskins said.
“For me the second objective is to really set up an infrastructure of teaching values into their school program by training their coaches and teachers at the school to use basketball to teach values,” he added. “I really believe it’s going to give us a wide open door to minister to these kids who have had virtually nothing over the last 10 years.”
Each child who attends a basketball clinic will receive a copy of the Book of Hope, an interactive, Bible-based children’s magazine, OneHope states. Each magazine is customized with culturally specific images, games, family activities and stories.
Hoskins is encouraged by the country’s acceptance of their mission.
“We were very up front with the government that sports alone wasn’t going to change the destiny of the children,” he explained. “They needed character development coming out of a situation that has been so corrupt and so filled with violence.
“The children need a new set of values that we believe come from God’s Word. So we have the freedom and an open door from the government, the ministry of sports, to distribute our material and content.”
On its website, OneHope states that it has reached more than 775 million young people in 125 countries providing a message of hope and God's love through children's magazines, animated films, sports clinics, interactive games, smart phone apps and concerts. The ministry is based in Pompano Beach.