Minister for Multiculturalism, Ray Williams today congratulated five young South Sudanese Australian men who have been selected to take up high school basketball scholarships in the United States this September. The young men participated in the Savannah Pride Basketball program, established in 2006 by Coach Mayor Chagai, which aims to inspire young people through sport, education and leadership initiatives.
Mr Williams said the young men would join an alumni of 20 Savannah Pride Basketball players who have been selected for a variety of US basketball scholarships. “These five young men are about to embark on a remarkable journey and will be great ambassadors for Australia,” Mr Williams said. “Savannah Pride Basketball is an outstanding program that is changing the lives of thousands of young men in Western Sydney.”
Four Savannah Pride alumni members are now professional basketball players in Australia, the United States and Europe. Sixteen-year-old South Sudanese Australian twins Paul and Sila Tako are heading to the same high school North Carolina on a two-year scholarship. Paul and Sila were born in Egypt and came to Australia with their families as refugees.
“The program helped me build life skills such as decision making, communication, listening and leadership to help in my future,” Mr Sila Tako said. “I felt overwhelmed and blessed in getting a scholarship to America. “I’ve been dreaming for this opportunity and all my hard work has paid off. My goal now is to make the next level college basketball and receive a degree to help my family, and next stop is to be a pro basketball player.”
The five young men will be studying in high schools in North Carolina and New Jersey on either two or three year scholarships. Savannah Pride Basketball is supported by PCYC NSW and the NSW Government.