LONDON and CARDIFF, Aug. 26, 2021 – The National Basketball Association (NBA) and Basketball Wales today announced a new partnership to create the first Jr. NBA Basketball Wales League in the presence of Wales Basketball CEO Gavin Williams, NBA Associate Vice President of Basketball Operations, Europe and Middle East, Neal Meyer and guests in Cardiff. The school-based league for girls and boys ages 11-13 will tip off with a Jr. NBA draft event on Nov. 23 in Aberystwyth.
The Jr. NBA Basketball Wales League will be available for 32 local schools throughout Wales, spanning each of the country’s 22 local authorities. School teams will be selected at the Jr. NBA Draft to represent one of the 30 NBA teams and will receive corresponding NBA team-branded jerseys for their games. As part of the event, players and coaches will find out more about the competition, meet the other schools and take part in a range of skills challenges.
The Jr. NBA, the league’s global youth basketball program for boys and girls, teaches the fundamental skills as well as the core values of the game – teamwork, respect, determination and community – at the grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents. During the 2019-20 season, the NBA and its teams reached 14.5 million youth around the world through in-person events and clinics, before transitioning to virtual programming and online youth basketball development events that generated more than 210 million views from youth players and fans in 118 countries.
“Setting up a Jr. NBA League here in Wales has been on the Basketball Wales wish-list for a long time,” said Basketball Wales Jr. NBA project lead Jon Bunyan. “It has taken a lot of hard work by a dedicated group of people to get us to this point and we are all delighted that the NBA have approved our plans for the league. Over the next few years, we will be developing the Jr. NBA initiative to include a girls’ only league with teams representing the WNBA (Women’s National Basketball Association), a wheelchair competition and developing links with youth sports organizations. Our ambition is to grow the competition so that many more schools can participate, and more young people can get the chance to play basketball.”
“We are pleased to partner with Basketball Wales to promote youth basketball development across the country through the launch of the Jr. NBA Basketball Wales League,” said Meyer. “Together we will offer a program that fosters healthy competition, teaches the values of the game, and provides an opportunity for children to have fun while learning more about the sport.”
Similar to the NBA, teams will be divided into two conferences. The Northern Conference, representing the NBA’s Eastern Conference, and the Southern Conference representing the Western Conference, will each include 16 teams. The Northern and Southern Conference games are tentatively scheduled to take place in March 2022 at venues in Bangor and Cardiff respectively, while the Jr. NBA Basketball Wales League Finals are tentatively due to take place in June 2022 in Aberystwyth.