In response to Mawlana Hazar Imam’s vision to bring together jamats from around the world, several American Ismaili athletes recently traveled to India and Pakistan to demonstrate fellowship  through sports.

This was part of a broader initiative through which elite athletes were identified by the Aga Khan Youth and Sports Board USA (AKYSB-USA) to serve jamats in other countries by organizing sports clinics for local athletes. Similarly, countries such as India and Pakistan received guidance on collaborating with western countries to implement this bilateral model.

“The objective was to identify athletes who have excelled in the sport of basketball, as well as done well academically and professionally, to serve as coaches and role models for youth in India and Pakistan,” said Raheel Khawaja, Chairman of AKYSB Western USA and Project Manager for International Sports Clinics. “We wanted the youth to understand that success does not mean excelling in just one area of life, but that it comes as a package when one does well academically, athletically and professionally.”

In 2016, the first clinic of its kind was held in India. In December 2018, India and Pakistan both hosted basketball clinics. Six TKN volunteers were members of the team from USA that delivered these clinics:

  • Amaan Porbandwaralla was on the US Team that won Gold in Kenya and Silver in Dubai at the Jubilee Games. He graduated from the University of Texas in Austin and currently runs various retail and food franchises in Birmingham.
  • Sabha Dosani is a nursing student at Texas A&M University in College Station. She attended one of the top private Texas schools, where she captained her basketball team for two of her four years in high school. Her team won the state championships under her captaincy.
  • Asad Meghani was a member on the US Team that won Gold at the Jubilee Games in Dubai. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon University and played NCAA Division 3 basketball for the school. He is currently working at JPMorgan Chase in Philadelphia.
  • Zain Motani was on the US Team that won Gold at the Jubilee Games in Dubai. He graduated from Duke University and currently works at Red Ventures in Austin.
  • Anil Hemani was part of the US Team that won Gold at the Jubilee Games in both Dubai and Kenya. He graduated from Oklahoma State University and currently runs his family real estate enterprise based out of Oklahoma City.
  • Danish Pradhan was coach of the US Team that won Gold at Jubilee Games in Dubai. He graduated from University of Texas at Austin and currently works at Amazon in Seattle.

In India, 35 participants between ages 10 and 22 stayed on-site at the camp in Mumbai. In Pakistan, two basketball clinics were held in Gilgit and Karachi for 108 participants ranging from ages 8 to 25. The Gilgit clinic took place on an outdoor court at Zulfiqarabad Jamatkhana surrounded by beautiful mountains. The Karachi clinic was held at the Aga Khan University Sports Complex.

Participants in India and Pakistan received basketball coaching to develop foundational skills or enhance their current skills, which they can continue to build in the future. In addition, they participated in life skills sessions which promoted values such as compassion, fair play and seeing diversity as a strength. They also had an opportunity to give and receive feedback, set goals and develop a plan to accomplish their goals.

“We are learning from the amazing experiences of both the athletes and the participants, which will enable us to offer similar clinics in other countries,” explained Kashif Hirani, AKYSB USA Members for Sports. “Our hope is that by continuing to identify outstanding athletes who are motivated to serve as TKN volunteers, they can meaningfully contribute their skills and expertise in various sports, and give back to communities which can benefit from these types of initiatives.”

AKYSBs in India and Pakistan and all their participants are most grateful to the outstanding USA coaches and athletes for generously contributing their time and talent to conduct these excellent clinics. This opportunity enabled participants to enhance their basketball abilities and their leadership skills, and it has also created a real sense of excitement about the sport of basketball.