The AfroBasket tournament came to a close in Kigali on Sunday September 5. Tunisia are Africa champions again, deservedly. Hosts Rwanda did not come away empty-handed despite going out at the group stage. They got the fair play award. It has been a thrilling two weeks of a sporting festival and the fans have had a great basketball feast even with restrictions imposed by Covid-19. The tournament was a resounding success and it is fair to say: AfroBasket came to Kigali and won. With this tournament coming almost immediately after BAL (Basketball Africa League) a continental basketball club competition, and a world cycling event before that, sports enthusiasts in Rwanda have had a real feast these past few months. And I understand there is more lined up in the near future – a continental volleyball tourney and a world football event. If those upcoming events turn out to be anything like what we have had this past fortnight, we shall have such excitement as to make us forget the pain and discomfort of covid-19. And perhaps by then the pandemic will have been brought under control or we will all have been immunised against it. But before we get there, let us say how we have enjoyed watching the best of Africa’s basketball talent strutting their stuff on the court. They put it all out there – the competitiveness, the passion and boundless energy, the skills, tactics and strategy, and national pride, all. The games were played at unrelenting high speed that left even spectators struggling for breath and causing havoc to their emotions. One person tweeted that he couldn’t watch any longer because the action and changing fortunes of the teams was not good for his heart. That was his way of saying it was fast and frenetic, with the lead changing all the time that it was impossible to predict the winner. Whichever team you supported, you could not help admiring the drive of the players, the absolute desire to win, and the never-give-up mindset even when trailing badly. You saw it in their eyes, and their every move. You saw the hurt when a pass went wrong or a shot missed the basket, and then the fightback to correct the wrong. But you also saw the delight after scoring, often from distance or impossible situations or an unusual angle. With this level of competitiveness mistakes are inevitable. More fouls than are usual will be committed and prove costly. A lot of the action is rushed. Not much thought may be given to the moves one makes. Critics of African basketball, and indeed everything African, might say this is what it is essentially – very physical and heavily dependent on passion and raw power. This might be valid criticism. But no one should forget that this is what happens when the collective adrenalin of the whole nation is projected to the five players on the court, willing them to win. Less severe and more constructive critics would advise calmness and better calculated moves, even in the intense heat of the desire to win (or not to lose). This is, of course, easy for us to say, watching from the stands or our living rooms. Still it is good advice. The better teams actually took this approach. They gave thought to what they did. They controlled better the rush of blood to the head, stuck to their game plan and adjusted strategy when necessary. The fans, few in the circumstances, cheered their teams on, never flagging in their support even when things were not going well for their team. They kept it up regardless. That’s the spirit of sports that we could do well to emulate in other national matters. Their unwavering support says this: we are together all the way, in good and bad times, in victory as in defeat. That is what makes a great team and a great nation – the spirit of togetherness, solidarity, we are one, and the desire to be the best. The tournament has ended and the players and officials have returned home. We have fully recovered from the physical and emotional rollercoaster and none has suffered a heart attack. Afrobasket 2021 in Kigali will soon become a memory. But in Rwanda I suspect it will have a longer lasting impact. Every little kid will want a basketball of his own and a place to practice. They will imagine they are Gasana shooting all those three pointers or giants like Tavares of Cape Verde or Tunisia’s Mejri and dream of one day playing for their country. Parents, this is coming. Your children are going to make these demands. Don’t ignore them; actually encourage them. Who knows they may turn out to be more skilful players than their idols. So, buy that ball, register your child at a sports club or compel your schools to put up such facilities. The government, too, please meet these demands. Make sports facilities widely available both for recreation and competition purposes. Spot and nurture sporting talent early and before long Rwanda will lift the continental trophy. That will be the lasting legacy of AfroBasket 2021 in Kigali. The views expressed in this article are of the writer.