Luther women's basketball team donates uniforms to Hoops 4 Hope

Young women on the other side of the globe in Capetown, South Africa, are now shooting hoops in Luther uniforms. The Luther College women's basketball team recently donated 24 Luther basketball uniforms to the Hoops 4 Hope organization. See more photos of the Hoops for Hope athletes in Luther gear at: http://www.flickr.com/photos/55249940@N08/sets/72157632242042820/.

Hoops 4 Hope is a global not-for-profit organization that has been promoting youth development throughout southern Africa for more than 15 years. Using sports as a catalyst for social and personal change, Hoops 4 Hope provides more than 10,000 school-age children with organized basketball and soccer programs for free.

"These uniforms have been amazing for us; it has boosted a lot of confidence and commitment to our young women in the program," said Kita "Thierry" Matungulu, the director of Hoops 4 Hope in South Africa. The group partners with more than 150 schools, children's shelters and community groups in Zimbabwe and South Africa to help children become healthy and productive adults.

From May 21-31, 2012, the Luther College women's basketball team spent 10 days in South Africa as a part of a service trip in association with the Hoops 4 Hope organization. The team first visited South Africa in 2009, and returned last spring to Johannesburg and Cape Town to work in partnership with the African Youth Development Fund, Miles and Associates International and the Johannesburg Child Welfare Society.

While in South Africa this year, the team hosted clinics at orphanages that taught children to play basketball, competed against some of South Africa's top women players and reconnected with the South African friends and partners they met in 2009.

Emily Nelson ('13) described the visits to Cape Town clinics: "The girls and boys we met at our basketball clinics were all so eager to learn new skills or work on the ones they already had," she said. "When we were in Cape Town, where our jerseys went, the gym was filled with kids and everyone wanted to participate."

Amanda Bailey, head women's basketball coach said, "This experience has made us realize that little things that we take for granted such as our uniforms, practice facilities and equipment are a rarity and privilege for others who have much less," said Amanda Bailey, head women's basketball coach.

"The Hoops 4 Hope organization is doing such an amazing job working with young women and helping them to want more out of life," Bailey added. "They have instilled pride and respect in them and what they are doing on the court. When I look at the pictures of them wearing our Luther uniforms, I can't help smiling and feeling a sense of pride that there is more than one Luther Women's Basketball team out there."

This is the second time Luther has collaborated with Hoops 4 Hope and donated uniforms. "There is a connection that [the team and the girls] share that is far deeper than the uniforms on their backs," Bailey said.