Luanda – French support for Angola’s most loved urban sport – basketball – is helping to break down gender barriers in a country where females are 36 percent less likely to have the same opportunities as males, according to the Global Gender Gap Index.
Women’s basketball, in particular, received a tremendous boost through the launch last year of various projects funded by a multi-partner French initiative with the French Embassy, Agence Française de Développement (AFD), the Tony Parker Adequat Academy (TPAA) and leading companies present in Angola (Total Energies, the Castel group, Air France, and Eurostral.
Aimed at reducing inequalities and solidifying gender gains in the popular sport, the initiative will primarily benefit the Formigas do Cazenga Basketball Club, based in one of Luanda’s most marginalized municipalities.
The club has seen 75 female athletes benefitting from sports and academic support and 6 players signing training and professional contracts with ASVEL in Lyon, La Bomba, and other Angolan clubs over the past year.
In addition, 55 girls received educational support allowing them to join the club.
Sara Caetano, who is now a member of the Angolan national women’s team, started her basketball career with the Formigas do Cazenga and trains at the TPAA, started by former French American National Basketball Association player and entrepreneur, Tony Parker.
She also plays for ASVEL, the women’s basketball club in Lyon.
Just last month, Caetano helped Angola to victory against several national sides in the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Women’s Afrobasket qualifiers.
As a spokesperson for Formigas do Cazenga, Caetano says: “Angola produces exceptional basketball talent fuelled by pure passion. The women’s basketball partnership centered on Formigas is seeing the development of a professional approach to the women’s game and the results are already becoming clear on centre court.”
The funding for the women’s basketball initiative is also helping to bring to fruition organised, provincial 3-on-3 women’s basketball in the capital, in consultation with the Angolan Basketball Federation.
To enable the further expansion of women’s basketball in disadvantaged areas like Cazenga, it was a natural move for AFD and TPAA to collaborate with the Formigas do Cazenga club, together with the Embassy of France in Angola.
These partners which advocate for gender-based change in sport and society have created the BASE-F project (Basketball as a vector of social and educational autonomy for girls in Angola) and the Basketball initiative, a lever of action for the Angolan Youth project.
“Angolan men have long proven themselves on the continental basketball court,” says Joanara Da Mata, Investment Officer at AFD.
“With the support of French public and private organisations led by Angolan basketball stakeholders, participation in the women’s sport is already becoming accessible and aspirational while creating a sense of motivation and wellbeing within Angolan women.
“The next 12 months are looking incredibly exciting for women’s basketball in Angola.”