Over 350 children streamed into the Sengkang Sports Hall to participate in the Jr. National Basketball Association (NBA) open clinic held on Saturday, 30th July 2016.
The open clinic, headed by Jr. NBA coach and manager of basketball operations at NBA Asia Christofer Sumner, aimed to introduce and promote basketball to Singaporean youths.
Jr. NBA coach and manager of basketball operations at NBA Asia Christofer Sumner leading the session. Photo: Sport Singapore
Alongside Sumner were over 30 enthusiastic local coaches who stepped up to the occasion to help the children along during the open clinic.
The clinic’s young participants, aged between 5 and 14 years old, began the session with a high-energy group warm-up session led by Sumner, before being split into their various age groups to learn the fundamentals of basketball, including passing, shooting, and footwork.
“I want them to walk away saying ‘I want to play more basketball’. That’s exactly what my goal is,” said Sumner, when asked for one thing he would like participants to take away from the clinic.
Fuelling the love of basketball is just one of the aims of Jr. NBA, a global youth basketball development programme that also seeks to impart the technical skills of basketball and encourage the young to adopt a more active lifestyle, amongst many other benefits.
“It’s not just about the basketball. Throughout the programme, we communicate and stress our core values, which are sportsmanship, teamwork, a positive attitude and respect,” said Jim Wong, senior director of NBA Asia.
The Jr. NBA programme has seen success in Southeast Asia, having been conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam over the past three years.
Its maiden run in Singapore this year is in collaboration with Sport Singapore, whose promotional efforts of the programme have led to more than 3,000 applicants within a span of a few days.
The Jr. NBA programme has seen success in Southeast Asia, having been conducted in Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam over the past three years. Photo: Sport Singapore
Putri Nurzhafira, a 14-year old basketball player from Dunman Secondary School, left the open clinic happy to have learnt new skills, and named the dribbling drills as her favourite.
“My friends asked why I didn’t invite them earlier when I told them about this clinic,” she said, revealing her friends’ disappointment when they were informed that registration was full for the Jr. NBA Programme.
Although Xavier Kek, 12, was initially reluctant to take part in the open clinic, he found himself enjoying the experience.
“I had fun, especially since I met this guy,” he said, signalling to his new friend, Ryan Tan, who was in the same 12-year-old group. Both of the boys bonded throughout the session over a shared love for shooting hoops.
Following the launch of the ActiveSG Basketball Academy in May 2016, the Jr. NBA programme complements Sport Singapore’s efforts to promote interest in basketball.
Following the launch of the ActiveSG Basketball Academy in May 2016, the Jr. NBA programme complements Sport Singapore’s efforts to promote interest in basketball. Photo: Sport Singapore
“The Jr. NBA Singapore experience will complement the efforts of the ActiveSG Basketball Academy, which will help to grow and improve the basketball experience for not only the players, but coaches and also parents,” said director of ActiveSG Basketball Academy, Abdul Rahman Hassan.
“There are plans to eventually introduce the sport for all ages, because we actually want to promote the sport and make sure everyone has the opportunity to play the game,” he said.
The Jr. NBA programme is likely to become a recurring event in the local sporting calendar. Having achieved success and growth in many parts of Southeast Asia, Jr. NBA is expecting similar results for Singapore, according to Wong.
Following last weekend’s open clinics, there will be a month-long regional training programme to determine the top 200 boys and girls, aged 10 to 14, who will participate in the National Training Camp.
The National Training Camp will take place in September 2016, led by a Jr. NBA Head Coach and a visiting NBA player or legend. 10 boys and five girls will then be chosen as the inaugural Jr. NBA Singapore All-Stars, and they will go on an overseas NBA experience with other All-Stars from around Southeast Asia.
“Not only is it going to be a basketball experience, it’s going to be a tremendous cultural experience for these kids,” Wong summarised.