On the morning of the NBA London Game 2019, a number of Jr. NBA Basketball England League schools joined forces for a fantastic celebration event with the help of some big names from across the globe.
Shoeburyness High School from Southend, Bow School from Tower Hamlets, Kingsdale Foundation School from West Dulwich and The Norwood School from Lambeth all made their way to CitySport in London for the chance to play with some greats of the game, and it was well worth the trip.
It was hard to move more than 5 feet in any direction without bumping into one of the many star players and coaches in attendance. With a list including the easily identifiable 7’7” former Washington Wizard Gheorghe Muresan, former NBA player and UK basketball legend John Amaechi, 3 time NBA champion Bruce Bowen, Elena Delle Donne, Natasha Cloud and Head Coach Mike Thibault from the WNBA’s Washington Mystics plus 1978 NBA champ and former Washington Bullet Phil Chenier, everyone involved was happy to teach, learn and have some fun. Manchester United’s Siobhan Chamberlain, Mollie Green and Millie Turner were also happy to get involved and eager to try their hand at a sport with a different kind of ball.
J R. N B A 🏀@ManUtd's @Sio_Chamberlain, @mollie_green97 & @MillieTurner_ are here to work on their skills, and former NBA player Gheorghe Muresan is there to help to. He's....kinda hard to miss!#TogetherWeAreBasketbALL@pe_shs @BowSchool1 @kingsdalefspe @bb_norwood @jrnba pic.twitter.com/9CxVvDMIvB— Basketball England (@bballengland) January 17, 2019
Washington Mystic Natasha Cloud said, “It’s been really exciting to be here, the kids are super talented and their fundamentals are really sound. We’ve had a really good time!” Phil Chenier added with a smile, “We’re trying to help these kids develop their basketball game, but also to feel better about themselves to.”
Despite an early start, the 50+ players in attendance displayed fantastic energy as the NBA staff and stars got things underway. With fun drills covering skills from all phases of the game, plus some 5v5 action as well, it proved to be an action packed 2 hours on court. The players then came together to hear some inspirational words from retired General Martin E. Richards, the current Chairman of USA Basketball, before a Q&A session with all involved.
Teacher Mitchell Gleeson from Shoeburyness High School said, “This is such a fantastic opportunity for the players and the school. It’s a huge treat for them to be here and meeting all these stars. We’ve been involved in the Jr. NBA programme for a couple of years now and the players love the competition, love the concept of being attached to a team and researching all the players from that team. It’s been fantastic.“
Laura Doherty, Basketball England’s Relationship & Coordination Manager and lead for the Jr. NBA programme added, “The Jr. NBA programme continues to go from strength to strength and it’s so good that we can enjoy events like the one this morning to celebrate its success. Since we began with the programme in 2014, what we’ve managed to achieve has been incredible and it’s so pleasing that further expansion is already planned for future seasons.”
This morning’s event was staged as part of the activities relating to the NBA London Game 2019 between the Washington Wizards and New York Knicks, providing another fantastic opportunity for Jr. NBA participants to enjoy incredible experiences through basketball.
Jr. NBA Basketball England Leagues are designed to leverage the excitement of the NBA to inspire participation, and 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.