Toronto Raptors boss urges African leaders to invest in sports

African Development Bank (AfDB) President Akinwumi Adesina (centre) and Rwandan President Paul Kagame (far right) receive complimentary Toronto Raptors jerseys from Raptors President Masai Ujiri (second from right) during the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa. COURTESY: AfDB

The president of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, appealed to African governments to invest in sports noting that it has the potential to create jobs and improve livelihoods.

Ujiri, who spoke at the Africa Investment Forum in Johannesburg, South Africa, added that investors should not ignore the massive pool of talent that the continent boasts in sports.

“We should be supporting teams here in Africa, that should be our vision. Sports is the next big thing in Africa,” Ujiri said during a panel session dubbed “Promises made, Promises kept”.

“We should be supporting teams in Africa…The talent in Africa is incredible, it’s like gold and diamond…we have to represent and believe in it,” he added.

Ujiri also commended Rwandan President Paul Kagame for lending his support to boost sports in his country.

In August, President Kagame inaugurated a state-of-the-art 10,000-seater indoor arena, named the Kigali Arena, which is scheduled to hold the first-ever Basketball Africa League (BAL) Final Four and Final games next year.

Ujiri also threw his weight behind putting women in leadership roles in sports management.

Women run our homes, they are incredible but when it comes to the workplace, we don’t want to give them that power to show their abilities. Now I have hired 15 women with my organization, and I think it’s important, they give us success. They make us make better decisions,” Ujiri said.

In conclusion, Ujiri announced that he had scouted two new players for the Raptors: President Kagame and African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.

Ujiri handed them red team gear with their names emblazoned on the back along with the number 19.

“They are going to be playing for the Raptors, I’m taking them back to Toronto with me,” he said.

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