By Reg Chapman

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A decline in the number of young ladies of color involved in basketball has a trusted community organization working to increase those numbers.

The Sanneh Foundation, with help from sponsors, is offering up free basketball camps for young girls of color interested in the game. The coaches and managers are all women that look just like them.

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Olivia Antilla is leading by example.

The former Benilde-St. Margaret’s and Florida A&M Basketball star is pouring her heart into teaching the next generation of coaches.

“That’s a big part is me feeding into our young high school coaches and then them feeding into the youth that we serve,” said Antilla.

These high school players are helping to get a younger generation into the game they love.

“It’s a leadership program year-round where we provide opportunities for girls to become coaches, training, leadership, mentorship and economic freedom so they learn to be coaches,” said Tony Sanneh.

The Girls First program is all about developing interest in a game that has seen a sharp decline in the number of Black and Brown players.

(credit: CBS)

“We do run a number of all women’s camps and clinics where we have them coaching and participating, but we also want the boys to be led by them,” Sanneh said.

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“When players are playing they can look at people that look like them and it’s relatable, and they can be like, ‘Oh, that is something I can do and can achieve and be a part of one day,'” Antilla said.

The Sanneh Foundation has been dedicated to sports based youth development for over a decade.

Its building caught fire this past weekend but it has not slowed down the mission.

“We have an all-female diverse group of leaders that are teaching basketball and getting the support they need to thrive,” Sanneh said.

Minnesota Lynx standout Napheesa Collier has pledged her support.

“It’s so great that Napheesa Collier from the Lynx wanted to be a part of this and is a huge advocate for getting BIPOC youth easier access to basketball and that we could partner together,” Antilla said.

Morning camps are exclusively for girls. In the afternoon, it’s co-ed, giving women coaches an opportunity to develop skills in young boys as well as girls.

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Click here for more information on how to sign up for these free camps.

Reg Chapman