Zalgiris Kaunas remains active in helping grow the game of basketball in South Africa and to that end has sent general manager Paulius Motiejunas and Olympic medalist Darius Dimavicius to the country. While Motiejunas has aided in the business development, Dimavicius is spending three months during which he will collaborate with the Duzi Royals basketball club and conduct a series of clinics for young players.
The relationship between Zalgiris and South African basketball leaders was initially arranged by former South African ambassador Darius Degutis and had previously seen a delegation from South Africa visit Kaunas. During that trip last year, representatives from Duzi Royals were amazed by the atmosphere at one of Zalgiris’s Turkish Airlines Euroleague games. The visitors also learned about the managerial structure of Zalgiris Kaunas and about Zalgirio Arena. There are plans to construct a similar all-purpose venue in South Africa to meet international basketball standards.
After the success of those meetings, Motiejunas chose to move forward in developing the sport of basketball in South Africa. “There are unexplored basketball resources in South Africa, and we in Lithuania have substantial basketball know-how. We found a very initiative coach who believes in our vision and is ready to share his knowledge,” Motiejunas said.
Dimavicius, who was a part of the Lithuanian squad at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, was enthusiastic before his trip. “Basketball is only making its first steps in a country of rugby, cricket and football,” Dimavicius said. Among his duties in South Africa will be conducting practices and special workshops for youth and coaches and working with the men’s teams. “There is no doubt that there are many basketball prospects in such a huge country. We would like to lead South Africa in the appropriate direction with our basketball knowledge and performance, and in the long term we can talk about talent scouting.”
As part of the program, Motiejunas travelled to Durban, South Africa’s third largest city with more than 3 million citizens, where he had meetings with business representatives, the Jewish community and city executives. “This way we can discover new partners that would be willing to sponsor basketball not only in South Africa, but also in Lithuania,” Motiejunas said. “Thus South African companies can exploit new business opportunities and Zalgiris sponsors can make new connections in a new market. We believe that the expansion of basketball could help us achieve more than one goal.”