Saint John basketball star escapes Mali with family
Modibo Diarra, a member of the Saint John Mill Rats basketball team, has been stuck in the African nation of Mali with his wife and daughter since April, due to a civil war.
Published Friday, September 7, 2012 6:57PM ADT
A Maritime basketball star caught in the middle of a civil war in the African nation of Mali is finally on his way back to Canada, and his coach and teammates couldn’t be happier.
It has been a long, hard road for Modibo Diarra, a member of the Saint John Mill Rats basketball team.
He and his family have been stuck in Mali since April, but with the help of fundraising, the Mill Rats centre and his family are on their way back to Saint John.
Head coach David Cooper says staff, players and fans have been busy this summer raising money to bring the Diarra family home safely.
“At first it was pretty tough, but it was a good thing because it got everybody called to action,” says Cooper. “I feel like we’ve been in season, it hasn’t stopped you know. They’ve just been out there, they’ve been excited, put together initiatives. They have done so much.”
“The board committee has helped put this together. they’ve gone above and beyond. We can’t thank them enough.”
Diarra, his wife and their daughter will fly into Saint John on Sunday. This will be the first time his wife and child have been to Saint John and the community has raised $15,000 to help them settle in.
Committee member Wendy Needle says she can’t wait to see Diarra when he returns. She is just one of the many people in the city who worked to bring him back home.
“There’s a couple of events, one coming up on Tuesday evening, it is opened to the public at Jungle Jim’s, so people can come down and meet Modibo’s family and welcome them,” she says.
The Saint John Mill Rats begin training camps next month and staff say they’re looking forward to seeing Diarra back on the court.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Ashley Dunbar