The first-ever Junior NBA Rwanda League was launched over the weekend as Rwanda Basketball Federation (FERWABA) strives to develop the sport from the schools level.
Rwanda Basketball Federation (FERWABA) launched the tournament on Saturday at Amahoro Indoor stadium in collaboration with the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The inaugural season of the Jr. NBA Rwanda League, a school-based basketball program for boys and girls ages 10-14, will be played from March until November.
The league features 30 boys teams and 30 girls teams from schools across Rwanda competing in eastern and western Conferences, with each school representing one of the 30 NBA teams and receiving corresponding NBA team-branded T-shirts for their games.
The top eight teams from each conference will qualify for the playoffs, and the two conference winners will go on to face each other in the final in November.
Speaking at the launching ceremony, NBA vice president & managing director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall said, “We are thrilled to announce the launch of the first Jr. NBA League in Rwanda in partnership with the Rwandan Basketball Federation.”
“Rwanda is leading the continent in many development indicators, with a young population and a lot of passion for our game. We look forward to expanding our Junior NBA footprint and engaging with the youth in Kigali around the values of the game of basketball, including teamwork, discipline, respect, integrity and innovation.”
In his remarks, the president of Rwanda Basketball Federation (FERWABA) Mugwiza Desire said, “The Junior NBA League comes in as a great partnership between FERWABA and the NBA. This is an opportunity for our youth to have more access to the game and show their talent.”
“It is a strong foundation for our youth national team which will, in the long run, strengthen our senior national team and clubs,” added Mugwiza.
The Junior NBA is a league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls which teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game at grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.
During the 2017-18 season, the NBA will reach more than 26-million youths in 71 countries through a variety of camps, clinics, skills challenges, league play and outreach events.
The NBA has a long history in Africa with 12 African-born players featured on NBA rosters at the start of the 2017-18 season. Through NBA Cares, 74 places to live, learn or play have been created in Africa, and Basketball Without Borders Africa has been held 15 times. The league opened its African headquarters in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2010.
The Jr. NBA Rwanda League is the NBA’s 13th Jr. NBA program in Africa and builds on similar initiatives in Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Nigeria, Kenya, Morocco, Mozambique, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda.