Cool ‘home’ for cagers up north

Female players taking part in a 3x3 basketball game following the opening ceremony of World Hoops at Gurney Paragon Mall, Penang.

WORLD Hoops has set up the first permanent professional 3x3 basketball court in the northern region shopping centre — Gurney Paragon Mall — in Penang.

Besides training programmes for cagers of all ages, nationalities and skill levels, the space will also be used to host International Basketball Federation (FIBA) sanctioned events.

Complementing it are several classrooms, as World Hoops also offers English classes for children and adults using the Scholastic American curriculum.

Speaking at its official opening recently, operations director Chuck Arnold said the company’s founding principle is servitude to the community.

He said the company started by helping to repair old basketball courts, donating supplies to areas of poverty and providing free training clinics to show youth how to be winners in life.

“We’ve been fortunate to have started in Penang, where people embrace the same values in preparing for a better tomorrow by training our youth today.

“We work with hundreds of youth each year and teach them positive character, hard work, leadership, communication and successful habits through our programmes.

“With the opening of our classrooms and basketball court, we are now able to serve the community every day,” Arnold said in his speech.

He said they were having their first intake this month, and will also host the 2018 FIBA 3x3 Challenger tournament at the mall’s atrium on May 5 and 6.

“This will be a premier event, as future 2020 Olympic 3x3 basketball players come to town to compete in the professional circuit of competition,” he said.

State tourism development committee chairman Danny Law Heng Kiang said previous editions of the event have helped put Penang on the world map for sports tourism.

“It brought many big names here, which attracted basketball fans from across the country.

“It also inspired our youth to dream big to achieve their goals.”

Also present for the ceremony was Jasmin Hercegovac, a Slovenian professional player who was named most valuable player (MVP) after helping his Ljubljana team win the FIBA 3x3 World Tour Final held in Abu Dhabi in October, 2016.

In what was his third visit to Penang, he said he enjoyed working with the children here and giving them the opportunity to be somebody when they grow up.

“When I return to Slovenia, I will talk about how things are done here and perhaps create the same opportunities for children back home,” he said.

Responding to a question, Hercegovac said that with 3x3 basketball added as an event for the 2020 Olympic Games, his ultimate aim is to win a gold medal.

Joining Arnold, Law and Hercegovac in the ribbon-cutting ceremony were World Hoops executive director Grace Khor, as well as Hunza Group managing director Datuk Khor Siang Gin and executive directors Khor Tze Ming and Lily Tan.

World Hoops runs its English classes and basketball training sessions daily from 10am to 10pm.

Visit its premises at Level 7 of the mall to find out more about programmes, as well as membership passes for use of the basketball court.

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