Basketball NI Partners with the NBA to deliver their JrNBA Grassroots Youth Basketball Across Northern Ireland

Basketball NI is thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with JrNBA, marking a significant milestone in the development of youth basketball in Northern Ireland. This collaboration, inspired by the success of Basketball Ireland’s initiative, aims to introduce hundreds of primary 7 children to the sport while promoting the NBA Classroom initiative supporting mental health awareness and good relations among communities. 

The partnership, unveiled during the esteemed JrNBA Festival of Fun on Wednesday, April 17th 2024, after 30 participating schools completed their coaching signals a groundbreaking moment for basketball in Northern Ireland. Thanks to the support and guidance of Basketball Ireland and funding support by Sport Northern Ireland and the National Lottery Funding, Basketball NI has secured this transformative opportunity to bring JrNBA to the region for the first time ever. 

BNI Vice Chair, Marc Mulholland who secured the multi-year agreement for the project to Northern Ireland said:

“We are delighted to embark on this journey with JrNBA, a beginning of a really special partnership that holds immense promise for the growth of the sport of basketball and youth engagement across the country.

“There is nothing more exciting when a young person becomes inspired by playing a sport. The NBA has helped the sport become so much more accessible for everyone to see the stars of the game like Lebron James, Steph Curry and Anthony Edwards. The children participating will now feel one step closer to the NBA thanks to this partnership which was 5 years in the making. With the NBA’s expertise and support, partnerships with local clubs and schools, we aim to ignite a passion for basketball in schools across the region, ensuring that every child has the opportunity to experience the joy of the game.” 

Through this partnership, Basketball NI, Basketball Ireland and JrNBA aspire to reach every corner of Northern Ireland, providing children with access to basketball and signposting them to their nearest clubs. Each club partnered with feeder primary schools to help sign post the participants giving this project the legacy that is needed for the sport. Moreover, the collaboration extends beyond the court into the classroom, with the project growing the sport in collaboration with local clubs to advocates for mental health awareness and foster good relations among communities. 

Jason Killeen from Basketball Ireland said, “The very first Jr NBA event took place in Belfast recently where 30 primary schools from across Northern Ireland converged on the University of Ulster for the Festival of Fun. The day was a great success and excellent promotion for basketball in the region. 

There was a massive amount of work done by the BNI staff in the planning and running of the day which could be easily measured by the enjoyment of the children who took part.” 

Basketball NI have also worked to bring together a number of the long time established organisations such as Sport Changes Life Foundation and Peace Players NI who have both been doing vital work within NI communities over the past two decades using basketball as a tool to inspire, educate and impact change. As well as the newly formed Cleveland NI project to help deliver the festival of fun and outreach coaching during this first year. 

Marc Mulholland continued,

“This partnership represents more than just basketball; it’s about empowering children both on and off the court, with the great NBA Classroom assets available to any school we are promoting well-being and fostering positive relationships with the sport of basketball”.

“We are excited for the future of collaboration ahead Basketball NI, would like to thank Jenelle Grant, Neal Meyer, Henry Utku from the NBA, John Feehan CEO of BI and Jason Killeen from Basketball Ireland, for the work in helping bring this partnership together. I would also personally like to thank US Consul General Belfast, James Applegate for his support and Sport Northern Ireland and National Lottery Funding as without their investment in our sport this partnership would not be possible. This multi-year partnership will help our sport create a future where every child in Northern Ireland has the opportunity to play basketball in their school, fostering a culture of inclusivity, health, and community engagement.” 
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