The Sunday Mail
Deputy Sports Editor
STUBBORN is the last word Oryan Danga would likely use to describe himself, but it is one that aptly describes this budding basketball player.
Once thought to be one of the top basketball prospects in the country, the 15-year-old can no longer fit that label.
Now, he is among the top basketball prospects on the continent.
This follows an invitation to join the Fiba Africa Youth Camp, which sees some of the continent’s most promising young players converge for three-day skills and development training camps.
The first of its kind, the inaugural camp is targeting players (boys and girls) under the age of 18, and is being held across three cities — Nairobi (Kenya), Saly (Senegal) and Abidjan (Ivory Coast).
About 33 talented players have been invited, with Danga one of two Zimbabweans to make the grade.
The other, Tanyaradzwa Muratu, was part of the first group that graced the camp in Nairobi from September 6 to September 9.
However, it is Danga who is likely to command the most attention when he takes part in the last camp slated for September 15 to September 19 in Abidjan.
For the Seke High 3 learner, this is more than just a simple opportunity.
It is both reward for the hard work he has put in and a chance to take his basketball to the next level.
He is dreaming big and wants to take the sport as far as it can take him.
“When I think about my future, I see myself as a basketball player in Europe.
“That is the dream, and my back-up plan is to fight until I reach that goal.
“When I heard that I had been invited to the camp, I was excited.
“The camp is an opportunity for me to learn new things.
“I want to learn as much as I can and continue growing until I am ready to be the best player I can be,” he said.
According to the Fiba Africa website, the young prospects will be under the tutelage of some of the top African coaches, Fiba and NBA instructors.The Fiba Africa Youth Camp will focus on life skills, as well as combining basketball and education, leadership, character development, health and wellness.
The annual elite camp is one of Fiba Africa Development Council programmes and is organised with the support of NBA Africa.
Its technical team is led by Don Showalter (USA Basketball), Naoufal Uariachi (Fiba expert) and other African basketball experts.
National federations and sport manager Lemou Benga and Kita Matungulu, who is NBA Africa director of basketball operations, serve as the camps’ operations leaders.
After a torrid year-and-a-half, Danga is eager to join his peers at the camp.
The Covid-19 pandemic has made life difficult for both professional sportsmen and up-and-comers alike.
Fitness was a real issue, and Danga views this opportunity as a reward for his perseverance.
“Covid-19 is real and we have to continue to try protecting ourselves.
“We have to wear masks, sanitise and social distance.
“As far as staying fit is concerned, I mostly relied on home work-outs.
“It is for this reason why I view this invitation as a prize for my hard work,” Danga said.
Organisers of the event have played their part too.
All Covid-19 protocols have been taken into account, with all campers going through a mandatory PCR test upon arrival at their respective venues.