Mani Giving Back Foundation to Host Inclusive Basketball Programme in Lagos

The five-day event will feature basketball games, skill clinics, and motivational sessions led by top athletes and coaches, aiming to foster an inclusive environment and inspire young individuals to pursue their dreams regardless of their challenges

Lagos, Nigeria — The Mani Giving Back Foundation, spearheaded by Michael Ani, Germany-based basketball coach and Nigeria’s two-time Special Olympics World Games Head Coach, is set to host an inclusive basketball program in Ilupeju, Lagos, from July 24 to 28.

This initiative is expected to attract over 250 participants, including children and adults with and without disabilities, along with 30 experienced coaches.

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The five-day event will feature basketball games, skill clinics, and motivational sessions led by top athletes and coaches, aiming to foster an inclusive environment and inspire young individuals to pursue their dreams regardless of their challenges.

“This event promises to be a major milestone in our journey. It goes beyond promoting sports; it aims to inspire young people by demonstrating that dreams can be achieved regardless of challenges,” Ani stated in an interview with The PUNCH.

He emphasized that children living with disabilities would be a primary focus of the clinic, aligning with his commitment to fostering an inclusive Nigerian society.

Ani’s dedication to inclusive sports began in 2008 when he started volunteering and coaching children and adults with disabilities in Nigeria.

He recounted the early days when there were virtually no organized sports or events for these individuals. “Witnessing the societal stigma and lack of opportunities, I felt a deep calling to bridge this gap,” Ani explained.

In partnership with Special Olympics Nigeria, Ani established the first basketball team for people with disabilities. Over the years, he scouted and trained over 50 players with diverse abilities, preparing them for the World Games.

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Despite relocating to Germany to pursue his professional basketball career, Ani has remained committed to his mission, returning annually since 2010 to conduct basketball and coaching training sessions in Nigeria.

One of the notable initiatives introduced by Ani is the Unified Games, which promotes inclusion and teamwork by having athletes with and without disabilities play together.

This innovative approach not only enhances the skills of the players but also breaks down social barriers and fosters mutual respect. The dedication of Ani and his team culminated in representing Nigeria at the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2019.

The forthcoming event in Lagos is more than just a sports clinic. It embodies the foundation’s broader vision of giving back to society through teaching, donating kits, and providing scholarships and other basic amenities to Nigerians.

Ani believes that sports can be a powerful tool for social change, particularly in creating opportunities for people with disabilities.

“We introduced the Unified Games, fostering inclusion and teamwork by having athletes with and without disabilities play together. Our dedication culminated in representing Nigeria at the World Games in Los Angeles in 2015 and Abu Dhabi in 2019,” Ani added.

“The journey has been both challenging and rewarding, and we continue to champion inclusivity and opportunities for people with disabilities in sports.”

The Mani Giving Back Foundation’s basketball program stands as a testament to Ani’s unwavering commitment to inclusivity and his vision of a society where everyone, regardless of their abilities, has the opportunity to thrive in sports and beyond.

As the event draws near, anticipation builds for what promises to be a transformative experience for all participants.

 

This article was created using automation technology and was thoroughly edited and fact-checked by one of our editorial staff members

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