Sports Doing Good Newsletter, #262

May 7 – May 20, 2017

Welcome to issue two hundred and sixty-two of the Sports Doing Good newsletter. This week’s 10 stories include:

  1. Cameroon Calling
  2. Dikembe Mutombo receives humanitarian award from Harvard Medical School
  3. SquashBusters Derby rallies squash and business community to raise record-breaking $1.3M
  4. The case for bicycles’ inevitable triumph over cars
  5. Damian Lillard rallies Blazers’ players to donate $224,000 in playoff bonuses to team staffers
  6. Dale Earnhardt Jr., Nationwide raise over $81K in less than 48 hours
  7. 49ers Host Leaders in Sports, Tech, & Education; Co-Launch The Sport and STEM Alliance
  8. How a new fan-driven ‘Interactive Football League’ could change the way you think about sports
  9. The Girls’ Soccer Team That Joined a Boys’ League, and Won It
  10. Using basketball to break the cycle of poverty and disease in Rwanda

Thank You, New York (by Derek Jeter) (The Players’ Tribune)
NatWest And ECB Unveil ‘Cricket Has No Boundaries’ (Beyond Sport)
The OSCAR Foundation – A story of opportunity (Sport and Dev)
My Mom, My Hero (by David Nelson) (The Players’ Tribune)
Formula E Donates Clean Charging Infrastructure To Leave Lasting Legacy In Paris (Beyond Sport)

11. Crowdfunding effort of the week – Swinging to Fight Pediatric Cancer on Youth Baseball’s Biggest Stage,  (Pledge It)

Just a reminder that we are moving to an every-other-week schedule for the next few months. We will continue to post on Facebook and Twitter during the off-week. Please continue to send us your stories.

In an interesting coincidence this week, we lead off and finish up with articles from the same person, Jackie MacMullan, a senior writer at ESPN. Jackie’s articles are wonderful looks at the integration of basketball in both an athletic context and sport for development context in Africa. The NBA has surely benefited over the years with athletes coming over from Africa to participate, and in many cases, excel, in its sport. In fact, one of those athletes, Hall of Famer Dikembe Mutombo, is featured in another one of this week’s stories. Jackie’s pieces, one dealing with Cameroon and the other with Rwanda, will give you insight into the great work being done by various non-profits, e.g. Shooting Touch, and locals in those markets and the long-term impact such programs can have.

In addition to those three stories, we are happy to highlight: SquashBusters’ recent and very successful fundraising effort; a look at how bikes, even in this time of advanced technologies, may continue to be a very viable mode of transportation around the world; NBA All-Star Damian Lillard and his Portland TrailBlazer teammates donating their playoff bonus to the team’s behind-the-scenes employees; a fundraising effort by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his legion of NASCAR fans; the NFL’s San Francisco 49ers, along with partners Beyond Sport, Chevron and Verizon, leading the launch of The Sport and STEM Alliance; the new and potentially ground-breaking Interactive Football League; and an awesome story about how a team of girls in Spain joined a boys soccer league and won the championship.

Finally, we want to send out a note of congratulations to a good friend of Sports Doing Good, Kevin Martinez at ESPN. Kevin was recently honored by, a global non-profit organization with the goal of motivating young people to make positive change both online and offline through campaigns that make an impact. It was a great night and we applaud Kevin and his team for their ongoing impactful work.

Please continue to send along your stories. You are both our audience and our best source of stories. Our Twitter handle is @sportsdoinggood, and you can find us at

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So enjoy. And have a good week.

Cameroon Calling
The 2016-17 NBA season has been a mixed bag for Cameroon’s basketball alums. Embiid’s delayed rookie campaign was terrific but cut short by a meniscus tear; Siakam, whose 2012 stint at Mbah a Moute’s camp launched his own hoops path that would take him to New Mexico State and then to the Raptors as a first-round pick in 2016, spent the final two months of the regular season shuffling between the NBA and the D-League; and Mbah a Moute showed well in the postseason, but his Clippers fell in the first round. Embiid has not been able to go home since Arthur’s funeral, but he is in the process of starting a foundation in his brother’s memory for an orphanage south of Yaoundé. Since Arthur’s death, his mother has stopped going out and visiting friends. She worries who will take care of her now that her two surviving children live so far away. Joel promises he’ll visit soon. The last time Joel talked with Luc, they discussed how to promote basketball in their country. They are kicking around the idea of doing a joint camp with Siakam. All three recognize the need to build on this burst of basketball popularity. “Three of us in the NBA?” Siakam says. “When I stop to think about it, it’s crazy.” The impact of their influence is palpable. Participation is rising in local schools and club teams. Mbah a Moute’s coaching clinics have sparked a new generation of young basketball disciples eager to teach the game. There’s a clear path now, created by Mbah a Moute, taken by Embiid and followed by Siakam. It can no longer be argued that “nobody plays basketball in Cameroon.”

Dikembe Mutombo receives humanitarian award from Harvard Medical School
For years, Mutombo has dedicated his time to charities in the United States and across the world. The former NBA All-Star spends most of his time performing charity work and acts of kindness through his Dikembe Mutombo Foundation, which has included hosting and participating in opportunities to feed the homeless, speak to and mentor kids around the world, and raise awareness and support for countries in Africa. He often uses basketball as a teaching tool, conducting clinics while continuing his work with NBA Cares. Mutombo, a global ambassador who has worked closely with several international organizations to help better communities around the world, was recognized for his philanthropic work and establishing the Biamba Marie Mutombo Hospital in his homeland, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The hospital, which has been operating since 2007, is one of the few in the area that offers services to patients with chronic illnesses and diseases such as cancer and sickle-cell anemia. Representatives from more than 12 countries joined the African ambassadors at the summit, including Mutombo, to brainstorm and discuss ways they can do their part to help nations across the world combat the spread and growth of a disease that claimed the lives of 8.2 million people worldwide in 2012. That same year, 14 million new cases of cancer were discovered.

Former NBA basketball player Dikembe Mutombo speaks to the media at Marina Bay Sands on April 5, 2016 in Singapore. Mutombo is a member of the recently formed Junior NBA Asia Advisory Council, with an aim to increase basketball participation and active lifestyle amongst children. Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images

SquashBusters Derby rallies squash and business community to raise record-breaking $1.3M
In his closing remarks, urban squash visionary and SquashBusters founder Greg Zaff credited everyone in the room and all the Derby supporters over the previous eleven years with the success of the urban squash wave that started in Boston and is still rippling out across the country and the world. The first urban squash program of its kind, SquashBusters is a sports-based after school youth development program that uses a combination of squash and fitness, academic enrichment, and character development to open doors and prepare students for college. SquashBusters has served more than 700 young people from Boston and Lawrence since its inception in 1996, and 99% of its program graduates have enrolled in college. SquashBusters has served as the model for what has now become an international movement impacting the health, character and educational success of thousands of urban youth. The Boston program paved the way for more than 22 urban squash and education programs all over the world. Together, these programs serve more than 2,000 students worldwide. To learn more about SquashBusters,

The case for bicycles’ inevitable triumph over cars
Dediu projects that there will be more than 100 million shared bicycles on global roads by 2025. According to MetroBike, there were 2.3 million shared bicycles at the end of 2016. But there are challenges to the wide adoption of shared bicycling. Two of the biggest are infrastructure and weather. Many potential cyclists are fearful of riding amid cars and trucks. Without protected bike lanes that shield bikes from vehicles, many people will never dare to ride a bike on a crowded street. As Dediu sees it, first the disruptive technology arrives, then the suitable environment follows. Early roads weren’t smooth enough for the first cars. Early cellular networks couldn’t handle smartphone data. But with time, the world adapted to fit the promising technology. Bike lanes are already growing worldwide. And then there’s weather. Riding in the rain or snow is unpleasant. Dediu notes that the first cars and planes were open air vehicles. But they morphed into cocoons. Dediu expects bikes will follow a similar evolution. He also expects grassroots excitement to propel the bicycle industry forward. The passion for bicycles exceeds other cutting-edge transportation projects. Surveys have shown most Americans fear riding in a self-driving car.

Mobike users take 20 million rides a day on the startup’s 3.6 million bikes. The Chinese startup launched its first bikeshare network 13 months ago.

Damian Lillard rallies Blazers’ players to donate $224,000 in playoff bonuses to team staffers
The day after the Blazers were eliminated from the playoffs with a disappointing sweep at the hands of Golden State, Lillard still had one task to perform: Getting the rest of the team to sign off on donating their playoff checks…As captain for the past two seasons, Lillard has made it clear to his teammates that their playoff checks should be donated to the Blazers’ support staff, which consists of everybody from massage therapists to the trainers at the practice facility. “We divide our playoff shares to give to the people who we work so closely with because they spend as much time away from their families as we do, and they are just about as invested as we are,’’ Lillard said after the season. “They also do as much as possible to make our lives easier, even if it makes theirs more difficult – all while making far less. So it’s a further way of showing appreciation beyond a thank your or a handshake.’’… This is just a very Lillard thing to do. He was awarded the Pro Basketball Writers Association’s Magic Johnson Award this season for the player who combines being good on the court with cooperation with the media off it. (Note: I am a member of the PBWA.) He’s the face of the Blazers in the community, and just someone who by his nature is a good person trying to connect with the fans. Donating the playoff checks is just an extension of who he is.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., Nationwide raise over $81K in less than 48 hours
When Nationwide gave fans the chance to put their name on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s hood, they took full advantage of it. On May 3, Nationwide revealed the No. 88 Nationwide Children’s Hospital Chevrolet paint scheme Earnhardt will race at Kentucky Speedway on July 8. In exchange for a $250 donation, fans will have their name featured on the hood of the car. Less than 24 hours after the donation window opened, all 315 spots on the hood were sold out. Miraculously, Nationwide found 63 more spaces for names. Twenty-four hours after that, those spots were also filled. “Nationwide put together a real cool program for the car we are going to race in Kentucky where they sold the hood off to the race fans to put their name on it,” Earnhardt said. “We need to take a page out of the book from what they did and utilize some of that marketing and awareness in our own foundation because that was really fast and raised a lot of money in just such a short period of time. All that goes direction to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, so very happy to be able to support that.”

49ers Host Leaders in Sports, Tech, & Education; Co-Launch The Sport and STEM Alliance
On Tuesday, May 9th, the San Francisco 49ers hosted at Levi’s® Stadium Beyond Innovation presented by Chevron, a one-day event which brought together thought leaders from across the globe in sport, technology and education to engage in productive conversation and find tangible solutions to tackling the improvement of STEM education through sport…During the event, Beyond Sport, 49ers Foundation, Chevron and Verizon launched The Sport and STEM Alliance – a coalition of like-minded, leading global organizations driving innovation in STEM education through sports. Joining the Founding Members of the Alliance are Two Circles, UNICEF, EverFi, Direct TV, HP and Chelsea Football Club Foundation. “It’s really nice to be among a group of your peers – folks who view the challenges, the opportunities, the responsibility of our work in the same way, but bring an entirely different perspective,” said 49ers Director of STEAM Education Jesse Lovejoy. “The York family has worked hard to establish Levi’s Stadium as something much more than just a venue – it’s an asset to the community – and I think that’s really on display here in hosting Beyond Innovation. To be the inflection point around STEM and sports is a great articulation of what the York family envisioned when they designed and executed our STEM programs.”–Education-Co-Launch-The-Sport-and-STEM-Alliance/c019561b-42e3-437f-ab50-7d8dcb5b801c

How a new fan-driven ‘Interactive Football League’ could change the way you think about sports
The new league would utilize much of the technology already built for the Salt Lake and Colorado indoor football teams that lets fans pick plays from a smartphone app or on Twitch, and make personnel decisions via a virtual front office. It’s an idea that builds off the momentum created by fantasy sports, which gives fans the ability to create their own lineups and compete against others doing the same. Farudi, a long-time entrepreneur who sold his device trade-in startup to Brightstar in 2011, also envisions the league to be a test-bed for new sports technology, whether related to the fan experience or distribution rights or the on-field game itself. “We have a real opportunity to be one of the first, if not the first, to rethink and re-imagine traditional sports in the digital era,” he said. Farudi added that the league can be like a “sports technology lab,” with arms open to new ideas from sports tech startups and entrepreneurs. He hopes that some of those innovations make their way into leagues like the NBA, NFL or MLB. “They aren’t going away, and we don’t want them to,” he said of traditional sports leagues. “But we believe that they need to adapt. Our hope is that we can be a testing ground to really figure out what sticks and then be a part of helping implement that stuff in the bigger leagues.”

The Girls’ Soccer Team That Joined a Boys’ League, and Won It
“Tactically, you can see that these girls listen to every word from their coach,” he said. “They really try to do as they’re told.” After the match, the AEM girls celebrated their title by tossing Rodrigo into the air and holding up their trophy as the stadium loudspeakers blared “We Are the Champions.” The boys from La Noguera looked dejected but were quick to offer praise, too. “It’s hard to lose against girls,” said one player, Oriol Marchal. “But these ones really are very good.” AEM officials said they were planning to use this season’s success to start a crowdfunding campaign that the club hopes will raise about $10,000 for its coaching program. The extra money is needed, the officials said, because the Spanish soccer federation provides little support for grass-roots girls’ soccer, and because the club has been unable to persuade any company to come aboard as a sponsor. “Women have made real progress, which is amazing when you look at the big difference in how the money is allocated,” González said. But unequal treatment persists. In youth soccer, he said, “I know some clubs that only use their vehicles to transport their boys; the girls have to fend for themselves.” Inside the club, initial objections faded once the team showed it could outplay boys’ teams. Ana Maria Biela acknowledged that she had been reluctant to allow her daughter, Cristina, to play matches when she was younger, especially against boys. “I delayed as long as possible because I was afraid that she would get hurt by the boys,” Biela said. “She kept answering that she could also hurt boys.”

A training session. “They are young, so they aren’t perhaps aware that they’ve done something quite extraordinary,” one mother said. Credit Samuel Aranda for The New York Times

Using basketball to break the cycle of poverty and disease in Rwanda
The government has since decreed that all people of Rwanda must live peacefully together. It’s now against the law to identify as either Hutu or Tutsi: Everyone must be called Rwandan. If you disobey, you are jailed. And yet, people relive the horror of the genocide every time they pass by the very neighbors who killed their family, even as the government urges them to reconcile. Such is the uneasy alliance of this beautiful, damaged country. The vulnerability of the African people is why Justin and Lindsey Kittredge started Shooting Touch. It’s a daunting proposition to initiate a basketball program in a country that favors soccer, so to entice the community, Shooting Touch offers free health care to all who join. The cost is normally $4 a person per year, a king’s ransom in Rwinkwavu, where income averages $20 a month. Each year, the organization sends two fellows to Rwanda to implement change. This year, its fellows are Jake Mendys, a North Carolina grad who bleeds Tar Heels blue and grew up greeting Dean Smith at church every Sunday; and Chloe Rothman, who played ball at Merrimack College in North Andover, Massachusetts, then spent a year competing professionally in Israel. We are at our court in Nyamirama, and Jake and Chloe have somehow managed to convince more than 400 fidgety kids from our program to gather at center court and sit quietly. We have just run them through a series of dribbling and passing drills and a brief half-court scrimmage. While the kids are athletic and enthusiastic, they also are serial hackers; they even foul their own teammates.

Coach Jake Mendys, a visiting fellow for Shooting Touch, leads participants in a drill. Christopher Cardoza

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