The U.S. National Basketball Association (NBA)’s Jr. NBA development program on Saturday returned to Vietnam for the fourth consecutive year.
Besides the traditional venues at Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, the NBA’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls this year will expand to the central city of Da Nang for the first time.
The free-of-charge program is sponsored by Dutch Lady and supported by local basketball federations, the Consulate General of the United States in Ho Chi Minh City and the Embassy of the United States in Hanoi.
It hopes to reach more than 5,000 boys and girls aged 10 to 14 at more than 200 schools across those three cities in three months, with many training activities.
“Basketball’s popularity has grown substantially since we first introduced the Jr. NBA program to Vietnam in 2014,” NBA Asia vice president, global marketing partnerships Francesco Suarez confirmed.
“We believe there is a real opportunity to further improve the youth basketball experience and enhance player health and wellness by implementing guidelines for how the game should be played and taught at the grassroots level.”
Participants are trained in the fundamentals of basketball and learn about the importance of proper nutrition as well as the Jr. NBA’s core values.
Head coach Chris Sumner (1st from R) introduces Jr.NBA coaches at the 2017 Jr.NBA opening ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on March 3, 2017. Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
According to NBA head coach Chris Sumner, one of the most important things Jr.NBA hopes to brings to the kids, beside free opportunities to play basketball, is Jr. NBA S.T.A.R. values of Sportsmanship, Teamwork, (a positive) Attitude and Respect.
“It is not only about best players, it is also about good people”, he shared with Tuoi Tre News.
During the program, all three cities will host a series of school-level coach clinics, followed by the first selection camp on March 17 in Hanoi and the second selection camp in Ho Chi Minh City on April 22.
The top 32 boys and girls from the two selection camps will be invited to participate in the Jr. NBA National Training Camp in Ho Chi Minh City from June 23 to 25 which will culminate with eight boys and eight girls being named 2017 Jr. NBA Vietnam All-Stars.
These standout campers will embark on an overseas NBA experience together with fellow Jr. NBA All-Stars from Southeast Asia later in the year.
Representatives from the organizers, members of 2016 Jr.NBA All-Stars Vietnam team and Jr.NBA coaches pose for a picture at the 2017 Jr.NBA opening ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City on March 3, 2017. Photo: Dong Nguyen/ Tuoi Tre News
Talking with Tuoi Tre News at Saturday’s opening ceremony, Jim Wong, associate vice president, marketing partnerships at NBA Asia said he has seen a strong passion in Vietnamese kids whenever they talk about basketball.
“Every single year, kids have amazed us with their talents, speed and skills,” Wond expressed.
“We just expect that they continue to grow.”
As part of the NBA’s continued commitment to providing youth with increased access to play the game, the NBA will also refurbish a basketball court in Vietnam and dedicate it to the local community in June.
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