The Women’s National Basketball Association (WNBA) player Chiney Ogwumike was the star attraction at Nairobi’s Kasarani Stadium as the NBA launched the first Jr. NBA Nairobi League on Saturday.
Ogwumike tipped off the after-school league meant for Kenyan boys aged 14 and under that will feature 30 local school teams competing for the league championship in June.
The competition will be sponsored by the NBA and Ford Motor Company (Ford).
“As the torch bearers of basketball in Kenya and the representative of FIBA, we are honoured to be hosting the NBA for the launch of the Jr.NBA Nairobi League.
“Development is a critical element to the success of the game in Kenya, and we are ready to work hand in hand with all stakeholders to create an enabling environment for the development of the game. We look forward to a great future for our youth through this program,” the Kenya Basketball Federation Chairman Paul Otula said.
Each school team will represent one of the 30 NBA teams and will receive corresponding NBA team-branded jerseys for their games.
“We are excited to partner with Ford Motor Company to launch our first Jr. NBA League in Nairobi. Kenya has some of the most passionate fans on the continent, and this is an important step for us to make the game of basketball more accessible toKenyan youth. We look forward to the start of the inaugural season,” NBA Vice President and Managing Director for Africa, Amadou Gallo Fall said.
Ford is the official partner of the Jr. NBA Nairobi League,while the Kenyan Basketball Federation will support Jr. NBA Nairobi League activities.
Kwesé Sports will provide extensive broadcast coverage of the Jr. NBA Nairobi League.
The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball participation program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.
Since the 2015-16 season, the NBA has engaged more than 12 million youth through its basketball participation efforts, with Jr. NBA programs in more than 50 countries.
Similar to the NBA, teams will be divided into two conferences. The Jr. NBA Nairobi League’s regular season will run through May, with the top eight teams from each conference qualifying for the playoffs.
The top two teams from each conference will then meet in the championship game in June to determine the first Jr. NBA Nairobi League champion.
Leveraging the excitement of the NBA, the league will also promote shared values of teamwork, leadership, fitness and healthy living through competitive league play and Jr. NBA youth clinics.
Ogwumike was selected first overall in the 2014 WNBA Draft by the Connecticut Sun. She was named a WNBA All-Star and the 2014 WNBA Rookie Year in her first season in the league.
She is the sister of 2016 WNBA Most Valuable Player and WNBA Champion Nneka Ogwumike of the Los Angeles Sparks.