Can sports change the world?

Posted by Stephan Petar, September 20, 2016
Film Poster

The Drake Hotel hosted a number of parties during the Toronto International Film Festival. With private events, guest chefs and more, we were the west end festival destination. One party in particular celebrated the powerful, emotional and thought-provoking film Giants of Africa, which tells the story of a non-profit by the same name that started 13 years ago.


Masai Ujiri at one of the camps

“Can sports change the world?” That is the question the film ponders as it explores the initiatives of Giants of Africa, which started in 2003 by Nigerian born Masai Ujiri, who is an example of how sport changed his world. Ujiri’s passion for basketball started in Nigeria and has developed into a career - he is now the Toronto Raptors president and general manager. Ujiri was aware of the talent in Africa, but with a lack of coaches and facilities, he knew many players would never gain the required experience to reach their potential, resulting in abandoned dreams. Drawing from his personal experiences, he started Giants of Africa to help players develop their potential, showcase their talents and dream big.


Ghana Camp working together to reach their dreams.

The objective of the non-profit is to create lasting change and empowerment. This is accomplishment by creating awareness and support for underprivileged children and young adults. The program establishes camps which educate and enrich the lives of African youth and provides quality facilities, gear and coaches. When the project started it was based in one country. Today the movement has reached four nations including Nigeria, Ghana, Kenya and Rwanda, with two more locations being added this year. The existing camps currently have 50 to 60 participants each.


Members of the camp

Giants of Africa has delivered on its promise, with results illustrating that sport can change the world. The camps have inspired hundreds to dream big and pursue their passions. Participants of the camps play at local, national, international and professional levels as well as on junior teams in Europe and Nigeria. Many have also attended the NBA’s Basketball Without Borders. Over 80 campers have pursued education in the United States attending either high school or university, while over 100 attended university in Nigeria.

Red Carpet

Hitting the red carpet at Ryerson Theatre

Documenting the work of Ujiri and profiling players, the film is powerful, emotional and heartwarming. On September 16, the film had its world premiere at the Ryerson Theatre as part of TIFF. The red carpet saw director and Academy Award nominee Hubert Davis, executive producer Michael Gelfand, producer Josiah Rothenberg, camp alum Ryan Otsimi and Ujiri who wore traditional African attire. The documentary received an overpowering applause and standing ovation. One of the most heartwarming moments was during the Q&A, when Otsimi broke down into tears after telling audiences that being invited and seeing the film for the first time was a dream.

Red Carpet

Reuniting on the red carpet


Q&A period

View the trailer and see the impact of this organization.

Posted in: Art

Tags: Basketball  Celebrities  Hollywood North  Sports  The Drake  The Drake Hotel  TIFF