BUDDING basketball players will be able to pick up tips and skills with the NBA’s global youth programme, Jr. NBA – which is back for the third year.
Having tipped-off earlier this month and running through August, the programme promises more clinics for participants this year and is open to all basketball players in Malaysia aged five to 14, free of charge across all stages.
Expansion of this year’s Jr. NBA Malaysia programme means it will reach more than 200 schools in Kuala Lumpur and will include schools in Penang for the first time.
The programme, presented by Dutch Lady for the second year running, is expected to engage 4,000 boys and girls, and incorporates a “Train the Trainers” programme, which was held at SJK(C) Kwong Hon in Kuala Lumpur following the launch.
At the core will be a series of clinics conducted in schools for both boys and girls, who will learn the fundamentals of basketball and the Jr. NBA S.T.A.R. values – Sportsmanship, Teamwork, A Positive Attitude and Respect.
The start of the NBA Jr.’s highlight event, a Selection Camp for players aged 10 to 14, will be held on July 16 and 17 alongside a Rookie Challenge for those aged five to nine.
While the Rookie Challenge is only a two-day programme, the Selection Camp will determine the top 40 boys and 24 girls who will proceed to another round of selections, the National Training Camp from Aug 5 to 7.
Selection is based on a series of skills and character assessments during the Selection Camp. They include skill stations, drills, scrimmages as well as team-building exercises.
Selection during the National Training Camp will determine which 10 boys and five girls get to be the 2016 “All-Stars”, who will embark on a unique overseas NBA experience later this year and joined by other Jr. NBA All-Stars from the region.
Last year’s Jr. NBA Malaysia All-Star’s Most Valuable Female Player Edna Lee, 15, said the experience was unforgettable.
“It was fun,” was her first response when asked about the trip that took her to China.
“I was able observe the different styles of basketball players from the Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia.
“But the best part was being able to make new friends and learn about their strengths as well as weaknesses,” said Lee, who hopes to represent the country someday.
Dutch Lady Malaysia marketing director Ashlee Ng, who was at the launch, said the programme in the northern region would be for two days, involving 10 schools.
“We had an overwhelming response last year, as schools, coaches and parents came from Penang to join us in our clinic in Kuala Lumpur.
“So this year, we decided to reach out to Penang first. Maybe next year we could look at expanding it further,” she added.
Ng said the partnership with Jr. NBA was part of its “Drink. Move. Be Strong” campaign to foster an active lifestyle and healthy diet among the youth while highlighting the importance of milk in a child’s development.
The programme is supported by the Education Ministry, Spalding and the Westports Malaysia Dragons.
Also present at the launch were Education Ministry sports division director Dr Mehander Singh, NBA Asia basketball operations director Craig Brown and NBA Asia global marketing partnerships senior director Jim Wong.
To register for the Regional Selection Camp from July 16 to 17, go to jrnba.asia/malaysia and for instruction videos and guides, visit www.facebook.com/jrnba