The Sunday Mail
APPARENTLY an encounter with Miami Heat forward Dwayne Wade was all that was needed to help Melissa Mwanza to choose a career path.
Before heading to the United Stars of America, where she took part in the inaugural edition of the Junior NBA World Championships, Mwanza was not too sure about which career path to take.
But speaking soon after her return from a trip that was fully funded by the NBA the 14 –year old Girls High student disclosed that she wants to play ball for a living.
“I want to go back to the USA again and compete in the WNBA,” said Mwanza.
“The plan is to go back to school, work on my grades and hopefully get a scholarship to go and study in the US.”
There was a refreshing air of confidence around Mwanza who before her trip looked shy and reclusive.
“It was a life changing experience,” she added.
“I managed to train with some of the best players and coaches in the world. It was all about basketball as we trained six days a week for the entire duration of the camp.
“During our rest days we would go sight-seeing and I finally managed to visit Disney World. It’s really much better than you see in movies; there are games, rides and all so many people. I spent most of time at the arcade playing basketball games.”
However, Mwanza – a self-professed Lebron James fan given her new support of the Los Angeles Lakers – rates meeting NBA star Wade as the highlight of her trip.
Ironically James and Wade are good friends.
“Dwayne spoke to us about the importance of hard work, dedication and talent and it really motivated me to want more.
“My favourite part was of his chat with us was when he said he was impressed with the talent he saw and believed we could all join the NBA and WNBA one day.
“That really inspired me and it was there and then I decided that this was what I wanted to do,” she said.
The Junior NBA World Championship; is a first-of-its kind global youth basketball tournament for the top boys and girls teams aged 14 and under from around the world. The tournament featured boys and girls divisions, each comprising 16 regional champions (eight U.S. and eight international teams) that all received all-expenses-paid trips to compete at an event held from August 7-12 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex near Orlando, Florida.
Also on the menu were basketball skills and life training programs and an array of on and off the court activities with some NBA and WNBA basketball stars.
Among the stars were the likes of Andre Drummond (Detroit Pistons), Brook Lopez (Milwaukee Bucks), Grant Hill (retired), Tamika Catchings (Indiana Fever) and Vince Carter (Sacramento Kings).