By Beatriz Miranda, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Jr. NBA project was inaugurated in Rio yesterday, Wednesday, September 6th, at the Complexo da Maré community, in Zona Norte (North Zone). Created by the American National Basketball Association, the initiative hopes to assist the region’s young people through free sportive and educational activities.
Conceived by a partnership between NBA, the Inter-American Development Bank and the local project “Maré que Transforma” (Tide that Transforms), Jr. NBA is concerned at the social development of Complexo da Maré’s young residents.
Through the free basketball classes, the initiative aims to promote fundamental social values to underprivileged children and teenagers, like citizenship, team work, friendship and health.
Nowadays, Jr. NBA is present in over thirty countries across the world, including Spain, Mexico, the Philippines, South Africa and Vietnam. It has already reached over 6,5 million underprivileged youngsters from 6 to 17 years old.
“Sport is a fundamental educational and well-being tool. Jr. NBA is a platform that combines diverse social values to basketball, like discipline and team work, which helps to build citizens. We are truly happy to launch this project at Maré, an area full of potential talents and devoid of opportunities”, says Daniel Soares, operational director of NBA Latin America.
Also supported by Complexo da Maré’s Olympic Village and the Barcelona Soccer Club’s Foundation, Rio’s Jr. NBA already has two hundred people enrolled in, from 10 to 19 years-old. For the project, some of Maré’s sportive venues and equipment have been revitalized. Besides the repair of two local soccer fields, brand new sportive material will be available for instructors and students.
“Maré is a community that is passionate about soccer, and they have immediately embraced our project. We had a very expressive number of enrollments, and this is only the beginning of a beautiful story we are about to build with this community”, states Arnon de Mello Neto, vice-president of NBA Latin America.
This is the second social program of NBA in Brazil. In November 2015, the association implemented the NBA’s methodology in São Paulo’s and Rio’s public schools in partnership with the Initiation to Children’s Basketball Group project, benefiting 15,000 students.
According to Hugo Florez, Brazil’s representative at the Inter-American Development Bank, “the relevance of NBA in the world’s sport scenario will aggregate inestimable value to the community’s self-esteem and social inclusion”.
Led by the Inter-American Development Bank and supported by Rio’s City Hall, “Maré que Transforma” (Tide that Transforms) is focused in training young people from socially vulnerable areas to become future athletes.