Earlier this year, this media outlet shared the story of Ms. Kylah Brantley, a sixteen year old basketballer of Nevisian descent, who won a full scholarship to play basketball in Russia from April 22 to May 1, 2016.
Kylah was the proud recipient of the prestigious “Sports United: Basketball Ambassadors of Today and Tomorrow” full scholarship from the New York based Russian-American Foundation (RAF). She joined twelve other students and their coaches for the April 22 to May 1, 2016 trip. From all reports, the trip proved to be a rewarding life experience which Brantley will cherish for years to come.
The opportunity was one in which participants experienced the full gamut of Russian culture; from the experience of Moscow’s diverse cultural offerings to involvement in some of the local Russian traditions. Part of the excursion also included visits to global heritage landmarks and making traditional delicacies such as pelmeni, vareniki and blini. This, coupled with sipping tea at the Moscow Gingerbread Museum, added another perspective of Russian culture that will forever be etched in the minds of the young and impressionable basketball players.
In celebration of the 14th Annual Russian Heritage Month, writer Polina Sope submitted an article titled Playing Hoops for an International Cause in which she highlighted how sports diplomacy as the thrust of the week and a half long student exchange. She shared how “sports diplomacy mobilizes the common love of athletics to break linguistic, cultural and social barriers and foster mutual exchange and understanding.” The essence of the sports initiative clearly resonated with all participants and served as a life experience for the dynamic group of young girls on and off the basketball court. Their experience was certainly an example of “sports diplomacy at work.
Kylah understood the good fortune that the basketball scholarship afforded her and she spoke with absolute glee about her experience describing the trip as, “Truly an experience of a lifetime. We were welcomed with open arms by many.” The highly sought after scholarship certainly opened a window of learning and exposure for Kylah who rubbed shoulders with her peers while exploring Russian culture and daily life through basketball.
The basketball exchange program began in March when a delegation of Russian coaches descended on New York City for a professional exchange with NBA representatives. The team of Russian delegates got to see firsthand American styled College basketball playoffs in March while taking in some of the sounds and sights of the world’s most dynamic Metropolis, New York City.
Ms. Brantley wishes to thank her family, coaches, teachers, school mates and all who offered support and she expressed great pride in her achievements and the successful Russian tour.
Kylah is seeking to maintain an above 90% average during her matriculation at the Manhattan Center for Science and Mathematics High School.
For all her hard work and youth vision, Kylah continues to be a “Youth on The Move.”