FIBA Asia Mini Basketball Convention was held in Colombo from 14thto 15th December with the participation of over 750 children and 97 delegates and coaches from 22 countries in Asian region. The event was organized by Sri Lanka Basketball Federation (SLBF) and Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association (SLSBA) under the patronage of International Basketball Foundation (IBF) which is responsible for popularizing the game globally.
The Mini Basketball Convention was held under three main events. The first was a Jamboree gathering more than 750 players of both genders under the age of 12 from selected schools countrywide. They all mustered at Sugathadasa Indoor Stadium, showing their passion for basketball and their eagerness to play and have fun. The full day event was conducted engaging young players with fun and activities to develop skills. Each participant was issued with a Molten Basketball, a T-shirt, participation certificate and a souvenir booklet sponsored by IBF and local sponsors, Bank of Ceylon, National Olympic Committee of Sri Lanka& Papere.com.
"We believe that the event gave kids a lasting impression to engage in a great sport and make it a part of their life" exclaimed Sanath Jayalath, President of the Sri Lanka School Basketball Association and Vice-President of the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation.
In addition, the IBF's “Basketball for Good” initiative was introduced to responsabilize the kids. Dr. Himan de Silva, an Olympic Physician, explained how important it is to keep the environment clean. He also emphasized how playing basketball leads to a healthy and organized life.
The second event was the interactive coaches’ clinic session conducted at KothalawelaDefence University with the participation of over 30 local coaches and 20 coaches from Asian countries. This session was conducted by Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, at Leeds Beckett University & International Council for Coaching Excellence and FadiSabbah, leader in Mini Basketball for over 20 years. The aim was to present the idea and philosophy of game-based learning in Mini Basketball, how to get kids engaged in training and make them love the game at a young age.
The on-court session included exercises demonstrated by a team of local young players in addition to the active participation of the international delegates and national coaches in instructive team building activities.
The following day was dedicated to the conference which gathered international speakers sharing their experience.
Dr. Lara-Bercialwhile sharing his experience explained, “the philosophy of iCoachKids is about understanding that sport participation can give children a lot more than just physical and technical skills; it is about putting the child at the centre of all we do and making sure sport is a positive and enriching experience where children develop as people first and athletes second. At the FIBA/IBF coaching clinics we have been able to demonstrate this philosophy in action during our on-court sessions with local children and also in interactive workshops with the delegates from all the region’s national federations as well as local coaches. We are delighted to share our free resources with the FIBA family”
The Japanese Way of promoting Mini-Basketball was presented by Keishi Murakami. He gave an overview of the way the JBA (Japanese Basketball Association) focuses on growing youth basketball and expanding the access to the sport countrywide.
Ahmed Yousif presented Bahrain’s “It’s My Game” Project, introducing the new strategic plan of Bahrain to raise awareness of basketball by introducing the game to kindergartens and primary schools.
FadiSabbah shared insights on how to organize Jamborees in Jordan. He presented the learnings and best practices he has gained with an example of an action plan. The presentation showed a concrete example of one of the IBF's goals for the convention, which is for the delegates to go back to their respective countries and organize their own Jamborees.
All delegates were pleased to have attended the event. Sana Mahmoud, a delegate from Pakistan stated, “it was a great networking opportunity to meet with people across the Asia region and learn about the wonderful different types of Mini Basketball programs they’re running. Pakistan has a long way to go but such opportunities are great for us to understand how to get there. I plan to pass on what I’ve learnt at the convention and see how we can decide a program starting from within my city at first.”
Andrea Paoli, National Federations & Sport Manager of the FIBA Regional Office Asia stated: “It was a great experience collaborating closely between the Regional Office and the IBF. Mini Basketball is a key area to focus on in Asia in order to invest in the youth of tomorrow. This convention gives innovative tools and concepts to coaches and administrators, and it is our role now to make sure that these learnings are translated into concrete actions: encouraging the organization of more Mini Basketball events and the spread of the Mini Basketball philosophy.”
IBF President &Vice President of Qatar National Olympic Committee Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thaniwho grace this occasion concluded, "this is already the fourth Mini Basketball convention we have had this year and we see the same enthusiasm on each continent. I am confident that the Mini Basketball movement is developing rapidly and look forward to the continuous growth of the Basketball Family around the globe".
The regional conventions for Europe, Oceania, Africa and Asia was held in Portugal, Australia, Morocco, Sri Lanka respectively and the last continent to host a Mini Basketball convention will be the America in Mexico.
Sri Lanka Basketball Federation intends to make this an annual event and the next event is going to be held in December 2019 with the participation of 1000 school kids to popular basketball in Sri Lanka.