A plan to train hundreds of basketball coaches across London has been unveiled by Mayor Sadiq Khan, in a new collaboration between City Hall and the National Basketball Association (NBA).
The £1.1 million London Coaches Program will support the training of roughly 500 coaches over the course of three years.
The project was announced at an event in Tottenham Court Road by Khan and NBA Europe and Middle East managing director Ralph Rivera, who were joined by Naismith Basketball Hall of Famer and 11-time NBA All-Star Allen Iverson.
The event welcomed more than 200 aspiring coaches and figures from local basketball, along with 20 local school children who took part in on-court activities led by Iverson.
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Khan said: “[The 500 coaches] will be training, coaching and mentoring 20,000 young Londoners. Basketball is now the second-most popular team sport in our country and our city, second only to football.
“One of the complaints young Londoners have is a lack of courts, lack of facilities, and a lack of coaching. We’re going to give young people these facilities, because I know the difference sport can make to young people’s lives.
“Not every young person who plays sports – whether it’s basketball, boxing, cricket, football, rugby, tennis, or other sports – will become an elite athlete.
“But they teach you life skills – how to be magnanimous in victory, dignified in defeat, how to be a team player, nutrition, diet, how to take and receive advice.
“Cricket, football, boxing changed my life, so it’s really important for others to have the opportunity,” he said, adding that the scheme would also help tackle violent crime.
Eleven-time NBA All-Star Iverson said he hoped the project would help young Londoners develop resilience and teamwork.
“It was my dream to be an NBA basketball player, so I had to have that work ethic, I had to have that resilience, I had to be patient with myself and understand that I was going to make mistakes at times, I was going to fall down at times – and it was important for me to get back up everytime I fell down,” he said.
“I think [basketball] is important because it brings people together, that camaraderie. It gives people a vision and it gives them a vision of teamwork and being competitive in life.
“Just knowing that you have to work together for the same common goal. You have to understand constructive criticism, you have to understand what it takes to be successful together.”
The project is being funded using £500,000 from City Hall, and £600,000 from the NBA.
The scheme will be led by a dedicated program director who will be announced in the coming months. The curriculum, which includes in-person and virtual training sessions such as Q&As with NBA coaching staff, as well as a mentoring component, was developed by the NBA’s International Basketball Operations department in consultation with current and former NBA coaches, Basketball England and Khan’s office.
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