TL;DR – Maybe with Jr. NBA, we now can.
The popularity of the National Basketball Association (NBA) and basketball in Singapore pretty much ended along with Michael Jordan’s retirement. Those who lived through Jordan’s era will probably remember how much more Singaporeans used to talk about basketball as compared to recent years. We might still see kids playing basketball at the neighbourhood courts these days but as basketball fans, we know that the popularity of the game is no longer the same as compared to say, two decades ago.
Despite that, some 1600 children aged between five to 14 years gathered at Our Tampines Hub on Saturday 17 June for the basketball clinic organised by NBA’s global youth basketball programme for boys and girls, Jr. NBA, in partnership with Sport Singapore (SportSG).
When asked about the main objective of this clinic, Managing Director of NBA Asia, Scott Levy explained that it’s not purely just about the sport itself. Jr. NBA believes that the clinic will have an impact on children both on and off the courts with values such as sportsmanship, teamwork, building positive attitude, and respect.
This might only be Jr. NBA’s second year in Singapore but Scott also mentioned that there will be bigger plans ahead based on the popularity of the clinic in Singapore so far. This includes the training of local coaches with the help of professional NBA coaches.
“Singapore is a good place for such programs. Jr. NBA is currently being conducted across Southeast Asia in Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam, and Singapore has one of the best facilities and support from the relevant bodies to promote the sport,” Scott added.
Being a kiasu parent, I took this opportunity to check with Ben Metcalf, the assistant coach of the professional Pure Youth basketball team in Taichung, Taiwan on how can we get kids to commit to a sport and its training.
“They first have to love the sport. Nobody is going to put in the hours to train for something if they have no passion. That’s one of the biggest role of coaches. We have to make the sport fun and enjoyable for the kids and even for the professionals,” he says.
So how is basketball in Singapore and Taiwan different?
“The level of coaching and interest levels in basketball is very different between the two countries. In Taiwan, they already started having professional coaches from overseas 20 years ago and we believe that coaches are very important though such things take time.”
We also spoke to a few Singaporeans who were there at the event.
Stephanie Tan 43, Parent and Aaric Chan 8, Participant
Stephanie was spotted standing at the court side watching her 8-year-old son, Aaric, shoot some hoops after the clinic ended. A quick chat with her revealed that she is a mother to five kids and her eldest son aged 18 is actually a national runner.
“Actually, nobody plays basketball in the family. I signed Aaric up because some friends were talking about it and I wanted to let him try it out for himself before he decides what sports he likes. My son has never tried basketball before this.”
She feels that such clinics make good opportunities for children to be exposed to the sport and they get to enjoy a good workout too.
Stephanie also shared that she will be supportive if any of her children decide to be a professional sports player.
When asked about how he enjoyed the camp, Aaric said that he really enjoyed himself despite this being the first time he’s trying out basketball. He had fun with all the drills as well as learning how to play the sport. He also mentioned that he would want to spend more time playing basketball in the future as well as start watching NBA games on TV.
For those who missed this clinic, you will have another opportunity at the regional training programmer (RTP) this coming 1 July to 6 August. The RTP is a 6-week programme for boys and girls aged 10 to 14 and will be held at the Choa Chu Kang and Pasir Ris sports centres. Similar to this clinic, the RTP is free for all participants. More information can be found at www.jrnba.asia/Singapore.
Rumour has it that a current NBA star will be in Singapore for the National Training Camp this August. When asked for more information about who this star could be, the managing director cheekily hinted that he is going to be a tall man.
Looks like we can only stay tuned for more.