Senegalese Basketball Star Takes a Time-out to Talk with Local Youth

July 12th, 2016 | Viewpoint

Marie presents an LLP certificate to a graduate. Photo Credit: Katie Meyer, JSI.
Marie presents an LLP certificate to a graduate. Photo Credit: Katie Meyer, JSI.

Senegalese basketball sensation Marie Rosche visited students at the Live, Learn & Play (LLP) program on Wednesday, June 29th. Marie chatted with eager youth at Talibou Dabo, a public school that accepts and accommodates disabled children in Dakar, Senegal. The LLP youth were elated to meet a basketball star and hung on her words as Marie told them how basketball shaped her life. She talked about basketball’s influence upon her education and career path, but also in shaping her as a person.

Marie is a Senegalese-American basketball player in the final pre-selection process for Senegal’s Olympic team. She has played for professional teams throughout the world, most recently with a team in Germany.

Marie’s father worked for JSI, an LLP program partner, for several years. After hearing that Marie would be joining the national basketball team, JSI staff in Senegal asked Marie if she’d take time from her hectic schedule to visit an LLP school. When Marie heard about the program’s curriculum and its focus on life skills, leadership, and gender development, she was glad to make time for its participants. “I was happy to learn that this [LLP] program, which teaches life skills and builds character through basketball, exists in Senegal,” she said.

Marie talked to the youth about what it was like to go from her childhood in the Mermoz neighborhood of Dakar to playing basketball for a university in the United States. She told them that her role models are her parents, who showed her the value of a strong work ethic. And while basketball taught her discipline, responsibility, and other important skills, most importantly it gave her the opportunity to study at a top university and continue her studies to obtain a master’s degree. Toward the end of the visit, Marie answered students’ and staff questions and gave each student a certificate for completing the 2015–2016 LLP program.

Launched in May 2014, Live, Learn & Play engages youth in a leadership and life skills curriculum through the platform of basketball. The project is funded by the United States Agency for International Development and the National Basketball Association. JSI manages the program, and the SEED Project implements it in schools and youth clubs in Dakar and Thies.

Written by Julie Ray and Katie Meyer

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