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Freetown Ballin - Sep 16, 2005


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GREG
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Few places in the world have seen such brutal carnage in recent years as Sierra Leone, where tens of thousands civilians have been killed and mutilated in over a decade of a civil war over the control of the country's rich diamond mines. A war that left an entire generation, including the uncountable former child soldiers traumatized and disillusioned.
Well, that was 3 years ago, but what’s next in a tiny, unimaginably rich country, that is rated the poorest country in the world according to UN, where war criminals suddenly live harmonically alongside their former victims? Naturally extraordinary extremes produce extraordinary consequences. In the case of Sierra Leone the current picture looks like this: It’s a virgin ground! Resource wise it’s one of the richest countries in the world, with 18 minerals, including diamonds, oil, bauxite and iron and a population of merely 5 million inhabitants, amongst which you find academics and 20th century businessmen as well represented as voodoo magicians, but most astonishing, an aspiring youth that has given up the war but definitely not the fight. A fight fought on a virgin ground, driven by all the determination, love and passion one can imagine, a fight were loosing is not an option, since it would mean defeating your heart. Some of them have lost much - their homes, families, belongings, freedom - yet they never lost the ball and their undying love for the game. “I’ve been playing ball since I was a kid, it made up for the joy that I missed when I lost my mum and my dad, this joy I found back in basketball. Basketball is life to me, I took it to the heart” says Trevor, age 20, National Team Forward. He recalls how his love for the game kept him and his fellows out of trouble and prevented him from picking up arms throughout the war unlike many other youngsters he knew back then. ‘Wherever there was a hoop, we had to play. The sound of gunfire wouldn’t disturb us unless bullets were flying right around us. We’d run for cover, wait till the gunfire ceased to go back to the court and play.’ Now that the danger is over many hardships and obstacles remain. After successfully reestablishing a structured national basketball league, without any funds at hand, depending entirely on voluntary officials and truehearted ballers, their ultimate aim is to qualify for the forthcoming Africa Cup. However with intercontinental airfares amounting to an average annual salary this might be a difficult task for a National Team that solely relies on private donations. Their first official sponsor is the ballers’ owned German Basketball Lifestyle brand k1x-Nation of Hoop, which recently started sponsoring the Sierra Leone National Team with basketball apparel. Inspired by the uncompromising dedication, passion and love for the game upheld by these young ballers against all odds and obstacles during more than a decade of a brutal civil war, k1x designed a collection titled ‘U can’t teach heart’ as a tribute to these players. “Living in different parts of the world, in a different environment and facing a different everyday life scenario, we had to realize how similar we in fact are, despite our different experiences. Thus we reinterpreted the infamous coach slogan ‘U Can’t Teach Height’ into ‘U Can’t Teach Heart’, because this is what Nation of Hoop is all about: Taking basketball back to the streets, back to the heart!” Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, founded by ex-slaves from across the globe in the former province of freedom in 1792, is a living example of Nation of Hoop’s philosophy: We are both nations that don’t exist due to any ethnic or religious identity, but were instead based on the mutual spirit of hope, determination and passion. The purpose of this collection and the campaign (www.k1x.com) is to put Sierra Leone back on the map! Parts of the Proceeds from the sales of the collection will be utili  




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