ABU DHABI, 27th February, 2022 (WAM) — The Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi (DCT Abu Dhabi) and the National Basketball Association (NBA) today announced the launch of the inaugural Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, a youth league basketball team for 450 boys and girls aged 11-14 from 30 schools across Abu Dhabi.
The league will begin play on Saturday, March 5 and will play the first NBA Abu Dhabi Jr. League Finals on Saturday, May 21.
Earlier in the day, DCT Abu Dhabi and the NBA hosted an opening ceremony and draft event where each school assigned an NBA team, received matching NBA-branded jerseys for games, and participated in basketball development clinics, skills challenges and contests. DCT Abu Dhabi Chairman Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, NBA Europe and Middle East General Manager Ralph Rivera and 10-time NBA All-Star Clyde Drexler attended the draft event and interacted with young players. As part of the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, yesterday, 40 Special Olympics athletes from Abu Dhabi participated in a Special Olympics Unified Clinic.
The Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League, part of the league’s global Jr. NBA program, will feature boys’ and girls’ divisions consisting of 20 teams and 10 teams, respectively, and will expand to include other schools and leagues in coming years. The league is part of a groundbreaking multi-year partnership between the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi that will see Abu Dhabi host the first-ever pre-season NBA games in the Arabian Gulf in October 2022. The partnership also includes a variety of interactive events for fans with appearances from current and former NBA players, a series of NBA FIT clinics promoting health and wellness, and an NBA 2K League exhibition event.
Al Mubarak said: “It is an honor for Abu Dhabi to host the first NBA Jr. League in the United Arab Emirates, which will inspire boys and girls from our emirate to participate in this very popular sport. someone who grew up loving basketball, I know firsthand how amazing the sport is, it really brings communities together, builds teamwork, encourages leadership skills and promotes healthier lifestyles , creating memories for life along the way, which is all about Abu Dhabi. We are excited to share our love of basketball with the rest of the world, while working with the NBA to encourage the next generation of sporting talent.”
Rivera said: “It’s great to be back in Abu Dhabi for the launch of the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi Premier League, which marks an important milestone in our partnership with DCT Abu Dhabi. Increasing the participation of young boys and Girls is part of our mission to promote the values of teamwork, respect and inclusion while inspiring and connecting the next generation of players and fans through basketball.”
“It was great to get out there and share my love of the game with the boys and girls participating in the Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi Premier League,” Drexler said. “Basketball inspired me to pursue my dreams, and I know this program will do the same for the kids of Abu Dhabi. Who knows, the next NBA legend could be found in this league.”
The Jr. NBA Abu Dhabi League aims to promote the shared values of leadership, opportunity and inspiration of the NBA and DCT Abu Dhabi through league games, events and clinics, as well as the goal of encourage young people to lead healthy lives through active participation in sport. During the 2021-22 season, the Jr. NBA will reach nearly 37,000 young people in 28 countries in Europe and the Middle East.
The partnership also sees DCT Abu Dhabi, as part of “Visit Abu Dhabi”, the UAE capital’s tourism promotion initiative, serve as the NBA’s Official Tourism Partner in the Middle East, North Africa , Europe and China.