On August 23rd, P.H.A.S.E 1 Academy took a cross-continental step into Africa to establish its first academy in Bujumbura, Burundi. Its establishment is the embodiment of a goal P.H.A.S.E.1’s founder, Wayne Dawkins had since he started the organization 20 years ago.
Dawkins wanted to expand his company’s mission of giving student-athletes access to expert staff, elite training methods, top competition, and exposure to greater opportunities to the motherland. But he ended up in the East-Central African nation by chance.
“Burundi was chosen for us, I did not plan for Burundi,” he said. Dawkins and the P.H.A.S.E 1 team had originally planned on travelling to Tanzania but the coronavirus pandemic derailed that. Then they made plans to head to The Democratic Republic of the Congo, but those plans also fell through.
Dawkins was then introduced to Patrick Bizindavyi, a Burundian-Canadian who had hosted basketball training camps in his home country two years prior. Bizindavyi himself was also looking to travel back to his Burundi to do another basketball camp, but was short on coaches.
Their meeting could not have come at a better time, and the two started the preparation to build a legacy.
“God will lead us to places to fulfill our purpose,” Dawkins said.”I thought that was gonna be it for the opportunity to go to Africa and then I got a call from Patrick Bizindavyi who heard about our efforts and he asked if we wanted to go to Burundi.”
Bizindayvi served as the project manager for the trip to Burundi; coordinating the camp, organizing sponsors, and building partnerships in preparation for P.H.A.S.E.1 team’s arrival.
The camp, held over a two-week period, was very successful. P.H.A.S.E 1 was able to share its resources and expertise with 24 basketball coaches, and a total of 180 basketball players- 100 boys, and 80 girls.
“We wanted to make sure we trained the staff to deliver our curriculum and deliver the training the way in which is needed for these athletes."
"Then we brought in the athletes next, and we did combine testing with them, photos, and then took them through some training-both athletic and basketball skill training, and we finished off my selecting athletes that would continue as part of our P.H.A.S.E 1 Academy in Burundi.”
Dawkins shared that he was very impressed with the skilled basketball players he and his team interacted with at the camp and, and was inspired by their drive and passion to learn the sport, despite the language barrier.
“We could see that there is a lot of athletic potential, the Burundians or not as tall as the Senegalese or the athletes from Sudan, but still very athletic and very hungry to learn and play. And it was very pleasant to just see how receptive the players were to hard work and instruction. Burundians speak French and with Patrick translating, we were able to communicate with 24 coaches and over a hundred athletes and still put on an excellent camp.”
But still, he was also exposed to the difficulties that Burundi basketball players face in developing their skill, and that’s what the P.H.A.S.E 1 Academy is trying to remedy.
However, in a country of almost 12 million people, one academy can only be considered the beginning.
“There’s definitely the need for infrastructure and coaching training and development to help these young people. Infrastructure such as courts that have safe surfaces, more rims, lights, or covered facilities that are able to keep the elements out so you can train longer, even things like water fountains so an athlete can quench their thirst and go back and go hard.”