As fans across America tune into the NCAA basketball tournament and March Madness, WNBA stars Tamika Catchings and Ebony Hoffman are bringing their "A" game to the basketball courts of Thailand. Over the course of the last week, Catchings and Hoffman have led clinics and conversations with more than one hundred female athletes.
Ebony Hoffman said, "Well, we work with the girls on a variety of things, defense and offense. Tamika put in some plays and I worked on some one-on-one drills and one-on-one moves.""I mean we've done a lot of things here. The first day we really focused on stations, such as ball handling, my station was actually doing three on one, passing, cutting, just trying to teach the girls about passing and always seeing the ball," said Tamika Catchings.
Ebony Hoffman said, "We pretty much taught them the whole game all the way around and they did extremely well with it.""Yesterday we had a shooting contest. My end was really energetic, really excited about it so of course we won, no, no, I don't want to go there," said Tamika Catchings.
Ebony Hoffman said, "Tamika's team won, yes, I will admit that. But the girls had fun they had big smiles on their faces so I can't complain."
Teaming up with the State Department, Catchings and Hoffman are working to increase the number of women and girls who participate in sports worldwide.
U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Kristie Kenney said, "In America, we play a lot of sports. You probably can drive down any street and see girls kicking a soccer ball, throwing a basketball around, and that is not so true in the rest of the world. Even very developed countries don't have the emphasis that we do on girl's sports."
According to the United Nations, girls who play sports are more likely to attend school, thereby increasing their earning power by 10 to 15 percent with just one year in the classroom.
Going beyond the basketball court, Tamika Catchings took time out to visit a local orphanage. Not only did she share sports equipment with these young girls to encourage them to get on the basketball court, she also provided support for them to pursue their potential.
Tamika Catchings said, "Having the opportunity to be come here and be a part of this, for a lot these kids they really don't have a lot of opportunities to kind of get out and experience camps and different types like that. So for us to be able to bring our clinic here and for these girls to be a part of it, I mean you can see the smiles on these girl's faces and you could tell that they were having a good time. You know I've talked about this all week long, just about basketball being a universal language. At first, they were looking at us like 'Okay, who are these girls? Who are these ladies out here?' But as time wore on, you could tell that they warmed up to us and that they had a really good time today."
So no matter what the score may be on the court, or in life, using sports as a way to empower women and girls around the world is a win-win for everyone.