Sports plays a vital role in the life of a child/student. Academics aside, having a good record in extracurricular activities is equally important in today’s education phase of a student. This belief is held by some of the well-known philanthropists in the country as well, most notably Nita Ambani. We are all aware of her work in football with the various grassroots programs that she helped start. Furthermore, her brainchild, Reliance Foundation, set up with the aim to help better the lives of people in various walks of life, be it rural development or education, it has also massively helped in furthering the scope of sports in the country. First with football, then basketball.
Nita Ambani’s Jr. NBA Program-
One of the several programs that Nita Ambani’s Reliance Foundation has launched is the Jr. NBA program, with the goal to help develop children’s affinity for sports in the long run. The program itself is designed to teach students the basic fundamental skills, techniques and values of basketball at the very grassroots level. This would enable the growth of the sport in itself and also help generate interest in it amongst children. This program also aims to provide the necessary resources for players, team coaches and parents in order to progress.
Reach and Impact-
This Jr. NBA program has been synonymous with the Foundation and by extension, Nita Ambani’s vision of growth of children through sports. Everyone at the organization has been thrilled with the partnership with the entity as huge as the NBA. It has involved more than 6 million youngsters and has also trained over 5,000 instructors throughout the country since its launch 4 years ago. It has merged basketball with the curriculum for students in over 4,500 schools and has, more importantly, spread the presence of the sport in the many cities of India.
Its return for the fifth consecutive years is expected to be the largest compared to the previous ones and the objective would be to bring further rigorous training for the students interested in the sport and to create a positive impact in their lives by also teaching them about teamwork and leadership.
Jr. NBA World Championships-
The NBA has recently announced the first-of-its-kind global youth competition to be played at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World Resort near Orlando, USA. This tournament would include 8 US and 8 international teams, who would receive an all-expenses paid trips to the location in order to participate in the same.
Scheduled to begin in spring 2018, the winning boys, and girls, teams from eight U.S. regional tournaments (Central, Mid-Atlantic, Midwest, Northeast, Northwest, South, Southeast and West) along with teams representing eight international regions (Africa & Middle East, Asia Pacific, Canada, China, Europe, India, Mexico and South America), will compete in the culminating event at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
From India, the Jr. NBA program, which is free for all participants, would organize a skills competition for individuals, a time-based challenge that will have passing and shooting, dribbling, and 5 on 5 competitions. Top performers in the 5-on-5 will make for a city all-star Team. One boys’ and one girls’ team, from each of the eight participating cities, will be selected to compete in a National Final. The winners of the National Final will then represent India at the Jr. NBA World Championship, totaling two teams in all for this prestigious competition.
The program would continue to focus on developing talent at the grassroots level, along with improving the infrastructure needed for the growth of the game. The ultimate goal of Nita Ambani behind all the efforts is, of course, to culturally integrate basketball in the lives of the students and to produce more players like Satnam Singh, who would represent India at the NBA.