O'Neal's trip to Cuba
Added On June 28, 2016
Legendary American basketball star Shaquille O’Neal on Sunday hosted a clinic in Havana for young Cuban athletes as part of a U.S. government-sponsored trip to promote bilateral ties.
He was named as the U.S. sports envoy to Cuba by President Barack Obama earlier last week.
The 15-time NBA all-star spent around two hours with Cuban youth as part of the U.S. State Department's "people-to-people program".
Throughout the clinic, O' Neal guided the participants through different dribbling methods and shooting strategies, and even served as referee in a couple of short games.
SOUNDBITE: SHAQUILLE O'NEAL, Former NBA Player
"We share a lot of things in common and we wanted to come here to extend our friendly hand and start moving things on between both nations. It was great for the president to reopen the door and regain a better relationship with this beautiful island. It doesn’t matter what sport you play because powerful sports figures can tap and help with the universal power of sports."
For the U.S. it was an opportunity to reach out to Cuba's youth, while for the young participants, it was a unique opportunity to learn from one of the best players in the history of the game.
SOUNDBITE(Spanish): DALILA PERERA, Cuban Participant
"It's of great support for us, a great experience that a figure like him is here to teach us. It is an honor"
SOUNDBITE(Spanish): JORDAN DAVIS, Cuban Participant
"It brings a lot of joyness because we can learn more techniques with his experience."
As part of Washington's sports diplomacy, the retired athlete will stay in Cuba until Tuesday , meeting young Cubans, talking sports and visiting cultural sites.
He will also offer young players tips and new techniques to develop in the future in the Caribbean nation.
Last year, an NBA delegation traveled to Cuba for the first time to begin cooperation and host basketball clinics on the island.