Over the years, we have seen several sibling pairings feature for their national teams and at the FIBA Women’s AfroBasket 2017, there were four duos not just representing their countries, but also having fun with their own blood sisters.
Family in Africa means a lot more that being born together. It represents relation, togetherness, bonding and most of all caring for each other through thick and thin.
In fact in basketball, family is important and on court in the Malian capital, we have seen a real execution of family tradition through the eyes of these players and here we bring them to light.
Playing at home in front of their families, Naignouma and Mariam are having the time of their lives. Wearing the same hairstyle and playing in the paint, an occasional high five when one of them blocks someone or executes a hard drive into the paint and drops a basket.
What makes the Coulibaly sisters even smile more is that they have their names at the back of their shirts, an extra spring in their step when they see eye to eye – it is a beauty to watch really but also an opportunity for Naignouma to mentor Mariam.
“It is an absolute pleasure to play with my sister on the same team. It is a great feeling and we are really thankful that we have the opportunity to play together. It is also a dream come true,” Naignouma told FIBA.basketball in an exclusive interview.
The thing about the sibling vibe is that it rubs off everyone on the team and creates a culture of togetherness, not that it would not be there originally but there is an added feel to it, one that is rather admirable.
From afar, you will be forgiven to think that Mame Marie and Sokhna are the same person and then you come closer, only to realize that they are two different people.
You can sense perfectionism from a distance, the kind that brings out the competitive spirit on court but the kindness to understand that in a basketball game, some attempts make it count and that when you lose the ball, you can go back and play defense and try to win back the ball.
The bubbly Mame said, “It is a pleasure to play with my sister on the national team because I did not get a chance to play with my older sister – Anta Sy – who also played for Senegal. Now, I am so glad to be here.”
These Cameroonian sisters have a definitive smile – infectious to those around them and the simplicity of their vocabulary and calmness even in the most difficult of situations on court is exemplary of a unity only nurtured from a home setting.
“It is definitely a dream come true to play alongside my sister in national colors. We support each other and we try to do our best for our great nation,” Tia admitted.
The Kouyate connection is a near fairy tale. Their love for each other even on court is visible to anyone with eyeballs but mostly the small victories on court. Both are on the starting five of the Ivorian side and are key players to their side’s quest for recognition among Africa’s big nations.
“We get along very well on court because she understands me and despite the fact that she is my little sister, she is the big sister on court,” Mariama explained with a glow on her face.
“Sometimes she manages to control me but generally, we give each other advice so we love to play together. It has been a long time since we played together so it was a pleasure for us. I do not mind her being the best scorer, I love it when she scores.”
Kani in a rather emotional tribute to her older sister affirmed: “I love playing with her, we are really enjoying playing together at this tournament because we do not know when we are going to play together again.”