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Basketballer Visits Limpopo Cultural Site

TWO-time Olympic Gold medalist Angel McCoughtry reckons programmes like the National Basketball Association (NBA)  Africa and basketball without boarders are a good catalyst for the code to grow in Africa.

Born on September 10, 1986, she was selected first overall by the Atlanta Dream in the 2009 WNBA Draft and is considered its franchise player. She’s also played overseas in Turkey, Slovakia, Lebanon, Hungary and Russia. Born in Baltimore to Roi and Sharon MvCoughtry, her father had played the forward position at Coppin State University in west Baltimore.

She first played basketball at the Northwood recreation center in northeast Baltimore and later became a standout in high school at the St. Frances Academy in east Baltimore. McCoughtry also attended the Patterson School in Lenoir, North Carolina before entering college at the University of Louisville.

McCoughtry led the Big East Conference in scoring, rebounding, and steals, while breaking school records for most steals in a season, most points in a season, and most points in a game. She was named Big East Player of the Year during her sophomore year in 2006–2007.

In the summer of 2007, McCoughtry represented the United States on the Pan American Games women’s basketball team. During her junior year at Louisville, McCoughtry broke her own records for points and steals on the season, and tied her own single-game scoring record.

She played a key role in Louisville’s upset of the Rutgers Scalet Knights in the 2008 Big East tournament. The Atlanta Dream forward says she was surprised to see that some of the girls that attended her basketball clinics in Mahwelereng and the University of Limpopo in Mankweng lacked fundamental basics of the sport.

The American, who was in South Africa on a personal vacation for the first time, saw the need to reach out to girls who like and play basketball in Limpopo. Lulu King, in partnership with Limpopo Tourism Agency (LTA), took the star player to Bakone Malapa cultural site where they introduced her to the Bapedi culture.

LTA has since introduced sports tourism and it was befitting that the American grace this occasion. The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) star adds that she was inspired by the girls’ dedication despite their challenges and promised to help where she can.

McCoughtry knows the sport is not big in Limpopo compared to in America, but encouraged authorities to not get impatient with the process of developing basketball. McCoughtry adds that she is working on seeing Women NBA also come to the continent. The 33-year-old says South Africa is a special country and athletes of colour have come a long way in making strides in sports internationally.