Actu Africa

Women who changed the African basketball narrative in 2021

Temps de lecture : 2 mn 🕗

ABIDJAN (Cote d’Ivoire) – African basketball has been experiencing so many positive changes in recent times, and the year 2021 will enter the history books as the moment when women made their presence felt tremendously in the game on the continent.

From taking top basketball operation jobs, head coaching roles, to refereeing at top level and success on the basketball court, women played huge roles in the progression of African basketball over the past twelve months.

And here’s a look back at their contribution to the game in Africa in 2021.

Although Nigeria had a disappointing Tokyo 2020 campaign, the D’Tigress became the first team to win three straight Women’s AfroBasket in the last three decades, a feat only achieved by Senegal in 1970s.

The Nigerians haven’t lost an official game on the continent since the Women’s AfroBasket 2015 Semi-Finals when lost to host Cameroon. Since then, the best team on the continent went to establish an 18-0 winning streak record.

Joining Nigeria’s rise on the basketball court were Mali.

Mali not only became the first African team to reach the knock-out stages at the FIBA U19 Women’s Basketball Cup  in early August in Hungary, but they also went on to reach the Semi-Finals, a fact that, somehow, echoed their men counterpart who reached the U19 Basketball World Cup two years previously.

And much of Mali’s success was owed to the exceptional Sika Kone. The 19-year-old, who was named to the to All-Tournament team, was a handful for every opposing defense and finished as the tournament’s leading scorer and rebounder with an eye-popping 19.7 points and 14.8 rebounds per game.

With more and more players devoting more time to the game at different capacities, a handful of former players took a central stage at Women’s AfroBasket 2021 in September in Yaounde. They showed that being retired from the game doesn’t necessarily end their connection to the game.

Six-time Women’s AfroBasket participant and two-time MVP Nacissela Mauricio, for instance, served as the team manager of the Angolan national and former Kenya national team captain Silalei Shani became the first former Women’s AfroBasket player to commentate the tournament for FIBA TV.

A remarkable moment came from North Africa when Egypt’s Sara Gamal El-Sharnouby, a former player turned-referee, became the first Arab and African to officiate in the 3X3 Women’s Olympics at Tokyo 2020.

One of the biggest storylines in African basketball this year was written by Australian Liz Mills, who became the first woman to coach a men’s team at Africa’s premier basketball tournament, the AfroBasket.

C, a former Zambia and Cameroon assistant coach, took the reins of Kenya in the second round of the 2021 AfroBasket Qualifiers, before helping Team Morans at the 16-nation tournament in Kigali, Rwanda.

Off the court, the NBA Africa named Gbemisola Abudu as Vice President & Country Head of Nigeria, where the league will open its third office on the continent in early 2022.

According to the NBA, “Abudu, an accomplished entrepreneur, business leader, luxury marketing expert and social activist with 17 years of experience developing businesses, brands and human capital in Nigeria, the Middle East and the U.S., will lead NBA Africa’s new office in Lagos and report to NBA Africa CEO Victor Williams.”


FIBA

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