The Hoops 4 Hope basketball mentoring program that Mark Crandall, of Amagansett, has overseen in Zimbabwe and South Africa for the past 19 years continues with its valuable youth development work there (and with the Inuits in the Arctic Circle), though while Hoops 4 Hope is becoming better known throughout the world, it has yet, he said during a conversation this week, to achieve sustainability.
There is always good news to point to: visits to H4H’s Cape Town center by N.B.A. and W.N.B.A. players (the Brooklyn Nets’ Andrei Kirilenko is expected to visit soon), a $12,000 grant the program received recently from 12 West Capital, a hedge fund, $5,000 donations from the Hamilton College men’s basketball team and from Hoops 4 Hope Japan to rebuild two of the program’s basketball courts in Harare, Zimbabwe, the fact that, thanks to StreetSquash, the successful youth mentoring program in Harlem, Crandall now has a desk (if not an office) in New York City, and the fact that Hoops 4 Hope is to be featured soon in a Red Bull TV documentary.
Yet there is always more to be done as far as underwriting Hoops 4 Hope’s free programs go.
To that end, its summer benefit will be held Sunday at the Kazickases’ house at 5 Hamlin Lane in Amagansett, off Stony Hill Road, from 5 to 8 p.m.
The tickets, which include “cocktails, food, a unique auction with contemporary art and signed sneakers, and live African music,” cost $125 apiece. Children under 12 will be admitted free. Among the businesses that have made donations are Robert’s restaurant in Water Mill, La Brisa in Montauk, the Montauk Brewery, Lucy’s Whey, and Sportime. Tickets may be bought online through HoopsAfrica.org.
Two of the Kazickas triplets, Annalina and Peter, who were responsible for Hamilton’s $5,000 donation, do volunteer work with Hoops 4 Hope. Peter, who received a national Allstate Good Works award at the N.C.A.A.’s Division 1 Final Four tournament in Arlington, Tex., besting 120 other candidates nominated by their coaches, has been to Hoops 4 Hope’s center in Harare twice, most recently last summer.
“Sports don’t just happen, I told the East Hampton Middle School kids at the health fair there this spring,” said Crandall, who, with Eric Scoppetta, is in his 24th year of overseeing the popular East Hampton Sports Camp, based now at Claude Okin’s Sportime Tennis Club in Amagansett. “You need balls, you need a coach, a court, a league. . . . Those are the basics.”
“But what we’re doing in Africa goes further than that. We’re using the power of sport to develop leaders, to prevent H.I.V. infection, to achieve gender equality, and to help kids make the right decisions before they get into trouble. . . . We provide 10,000 kids a year at our centers in Harare and Cape Town with great role models, a number of whom have come through our program.”
“The new director of our South Africa program, Gcina [pronounced Gleena] Mondi, came up through our program. He’s been with Grassroots Soccer, a U.S. N.G.O. [non-governmental organization] in Africa for the past five years.”
Mondi is replacing Thierry Kita, Hoops 4 Hope’s South Africa director (and guest coach with the Boston Celtics), who recently was hired by the N.B.A. to help oversee its basketball operations on that continent.
One of Hoops 4 Hope’s grads is playing professionally in Germany, though developing players for the N.B.A. is not the goal.
“The goal,” Crandall said, “is not to create the best athletes, but the best people.”