DAKAR, Senegal, October 7, 2021/ — Algeria’s Groupement Sportif des Pétroliers (GSP) forward Hichem Benayad-Cherif has received the inaugural BAL Ubuntu Award for his ongoing efforts to use the game of basketball to positively impact the lives of Algerian youth.
The Basketball Africa League (BAL) announced that Benayad-Cherif, who founded Elite Student Athlete Academy (ESA Academy) (www.esa-academy.com) in his native Algeria, as the recipient today.
The academy has hosted eight basketball development camps and educational programs for more than 800 student athletes since 2018, including several virtual sessions during the pandemic. In addition, he has served in an academic advisory role for many of the participants, emphasizing the importance of education in the players’ development journey.
In recognition of Benayad-Cherif’s efforts, the BAL will donate $5,000 to benefit a charitable organization of his choice – Association El Amel Sportif Equestre (https://bit.ly/3BgrWWO) in Algiers, Algeria, which caters to children with physical and intellectual disabilities through equitherapy, zootherapy, cryotherapy and other activities.
“I am passionate about working with young people in my home country and using the game of basketball to create positive social change,” said Benayad-Cherif. “Education and sports go hand in hand, and I want to inspire young people to not only give effort in sport, but in the classroom too. I am grateful for the impact the game of basketball has had on my life and look forward to continuing to encourage, mentor and empower young boys and girls to strive to become better athletes and leaders.”
“The BAL Ubuntu Award recognizes outstanding leadership and consistent acts of selfless benevolent service to others, and I cannot think of anyone more deserving of this recognition in our inaugural year than Hichem Benayad-Cherif,” said BAL President Amadou Gallo Fall. “Hichem has been a great ambassador for the game, and his efforts are a testament to the transformative power of sport. The spirit of ubuntu is at the heart of what we do as the BAL, and I hope this award will inspire everyone connected to our league to stay engaged and leave a lasting legacy in the communities around them.”
The BAL Ubuntu Award, which will be given out annually, recognizes a player who participated in the BAL and who best represents the league through his efforts in the community. “Ubuntu” derives from Nguni and Bantu languages and symbolizes essential human virtues, such as compassion, respect and humanity.
Benayad-Cherif represented Algeria’s GSP in the inaugural BAL season, which took place at the Kigali Arena in Kigali, Rwanda from May 16-30. He recorded 15 points and six rebounds in GSP’s three games against Association Sportives des Douanes (Senegal), Ferroviàrio de Maputo (Mozambique) and 2021 BAL Champion Zamalek (Egypt). He has been a member of the Algerian Men’s National Team since 2014 and prior to that played basketball at Armstrong Atlantic State University and Purdue University Fort Wayne in the U.S., where he was recognized with multiple academic achievement awards.