Shooting for success: NBA star mentors Sudanese refugees


A group of children, many of them Sudanese refugees, are developing their basketball skills with the help of an NBA star.

Forty children from culturally diverse communities scored the chance to learn from three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen in Sydney on Tuesday.

"Everything is possible as long as you have the right attitude...There's a lot of circumstances that went on in my life that I share with the kids," Bruce Bowden told SBS.

The former San Antonio Spurs legend is mentoring some of Australia’s aspiring young basketball players as part of Charity Bounce’s junior clinic in partnership with the NBA to inspire positive change among disadvantaged youth in Sydney.

"It's about your passion and desire, and that comes through and through within the people here in Australia," he says.

Fourteen-year-old Issac Gundi, who took part in a game at the King George V Recreation Centre, says his ultimate dream is to be an NBA player and playing alongside one was “amazing”.

Many of the teenagers at the clinic were Sudanese refugees, having fled their war-torn homeland and now relishing opportunities in Australia.

Acuoth Acol is a coach at the western Sydney basketball club Savannah Pride, which is largely comprised of Sudanese-Australian players.

"A lot of the kids are very talented but some of them never had the opportunity to play basketball in their country of origin. In Sudan, there's a lack of resources and no basketball courts," Acol told SBS. 

There's rising interest in the sport from the Sudanese community, especially after Sudanese-born Australian Thon Maker made headlines last week becoming the NBA's no.10 draft pick.

Fifteen-year-old Aku Makki left Sudan with his family when he was 6 years old and he says Thon Maker’s success is a source of inspiration for him.

"To be from the same place as me, just tells me I could be like him and follow in his footsteps," Aku said.

The NBA holds junior clinics around the world, but this was the first of its kind in NSW.

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