Ambassador Tefft Welcomes Former WNBA Players on Sports Exchange
From January 28-February 2, three former professional women’s basketball players visited Ukraine as part of ECA’s SportsUnited exchange program. Participating in an ambitious four-day, three-city, twelve-event program, the basketball stars led clinics for over 650 girls and boys, and received significant media coverage on one national and three regional television stations.
The program included Becky Bonner, who played NCAA basketball for Stanford University and Boston College, before playing professionally in Sweden, and then joining the NBA as an administrator; Tamika Raymond, who played NCAA basketball for the University of Connecticut before signing with the WNBA’s Minnesota Lynx and the Connecticut Sun; and NyKesha Sales, who also played NCAA basketball with the University of Connecticut before joining the Connecticut Sun.
The three athletes spent two days in Kyiv, running clinics at four different schools, as well as a visit to the Window on America (American Corner) and a courtesy call with Ambassador Tefft. The following two days were equally as busy, with four additional clinics in the regional capitals of Dnipropetrovsk and Donetsk, as well as visits to their Windows on America, and a lunch meeting to try to repair broken trust between women’s athletic coaches in Donetsk with local sports administrators.
The athletes consistently carried the message of women’s equality and empowerment through sports, and reinforced how central sport had been to developing important life skills such as cooperation, planning, and organizational skills. The visit was heavily covered by media including national TV station 1+1, and regional TV networks such as the Dnipropetrovsk Government TV channel and several networks in Donetsk.