Jr. NBA players help basketball stars celebrate NBA's Her Time To Play initiative

50 girls from Jr. NBA Basketball England League schools in London and Buckinghamshire enjoyed a once in the lifetime clinic today as part of the NBA and WNBA’s “Her Time To Play” initiative.

Hosted at London’s CitySport, the lucky players from schools in Hackney, Southwark and Aylesbury were put through their paces in a number of fun and engaging drills involving shooting, passing, dribbling and defence under the watchful guidance of three-time NBA champion Bruce Bowen and Team England Commonwealth Games Silver Medallists Georgia Jones and Siobhan Prior. The group then came together to compete in a number of small sided games before enjoying a highly informative Q&A session.

Bruce Bowen said, “I love this kind of stuff, the stuff that’s beyond the game. The game has really grown. The Jr. NBA is growing as well and these young girls can see that they can contribute to the game of basketball. It’s about continuing that process, especially at a grass roots level.”

Basketball England CEO Stewart Kellett said, “We’re always pleased whenever we can work with the NBA to help us promote basketball to the nation and support our plans to engage a further 500,000 people in the sport by 2024. This week is one of our most inspirational for basketball and we are delighted that so many young people can enjoy what is on offer.”

Bowen, Jones and Prior were able to join in with a number of the activities throughout the afternoon, sharing tips, tricks and advice to some budding new players. The session finished with a Q&A where the children were able to ask the stars how they got started, what inspired them to play and how old they were when they first got into the game.

“I think interacting with these kids is so great, watching them learn,” said Jones. “It’s a fantastic first experience for them to be here, and it’s really inspiring to see so many kids here enjoying the game as well! Hopefully they’ll play for a long time to come.”

Today’s clinic was promoting the Her Time To Play programme, a grassroots initiative created by the WNBA and NBA to inspire the next generation of girls, aged 7-14, to play basketball in a positive and healthy way. Hosted in the UK as part of the activities relating to the NBA Global Game 2019 between the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks, the clinic provided an unforgettable opportunity for those in attendance.

All the participants at the clinic currently take part in Jr. NBA Basketball England Leagues across the country. Leveraging the excitement of the NBA, the programme aims to promote the shared NBA and Basketball England values of teamwork, leadership, fitness and healthy living through league games, Jr. NBA youth clinics, and league Finals events.

In 2018, Basketball England expanded their Jr. NBA offering significantly, moving from five to 13 leagues across the country. Over 4,500 children aged 11 and 12 are now participating in the programme annually, with plans already in place to expand to sixteen leagues by 2020.

Basketball England is currently working to ensure more women and girls are involved in the sport to tackle the disparity between boys’ and girls’ participation. One strand of that strategy involves utilising the Jr. NBA programme to offer more opportunities for girls to get involved in basketball, coupling that with once in a life time experiences to help players fall in love with the game at a young age.