’Tana Aiyejina, South Africa
The seventh edition of the Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA Basketball League finals is set to take place at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in Phokeng, South Africa, on Saturday.
The Royal Bafokeng Nation is the homeland of the Bafokeng people, a Setswana-speaking traditional community, with a monarchy that covers 1,000 square kilometers in the North West Province of South Africa.
The finals will feature games between boys’ and girls’ schools teams in the primary, middle and high schools categories, with NBA legend Jerome Williams in attendance, while the Dunk Elite Team would perform during the entertainment breaks.
The Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA Programme, which started in 2011 with 28 schools, and has risen to 70 schools with a mass population close to 12,000, has received global acclaim for producing top basketball talents and equipping them with life skills and educational training through scholarships.
Last May, the programme, NBA’s largest youth initiative in Africa, was named the 2017 Development Programme of The Year at the annual Sports Industry Awards.
A statement from the NBA made available to our correspondent said as part of the celebrations for the NBA Africa Game 2017, the maiden Jr. NBA Africa Festival was held at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace in August, in partnership with Kwese Sports and Royal Bafokeng Sports.
Boys and girls aged 14 and under from Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Zimbabwe and Senegal, took part in the Jr. NBA Africa Festival with Nigeria reaching the semi-finals.
“The festival taught children the fundamental skills and core values of the game including team work, leadership, fitness and healthy living,” the statement read.
Over the past seven years, several NBA and WNBA stars, legends and coaches have provided mentorship for the youth in the programme, including Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Dikembe Mutombo (DR Congo); NBA legends Cedric Ceballos (US), Sam Perkins (US) and Ronny Turiaf (France); and current NBA stars (Luol Deng (South Sudan/Los Angeles Lakers), Thabo Sefolosha (Switzerland/South Africa/Utah Jazz) and Serge Ibaka (DR Congo/Toronto Raptors).
Each year, selected players and coaches from the Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA Programme take part in the Basketball without Borders Africa Camp, NBA and FIBA’s global basketball development and community outreach programme.
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