Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA celebrates ninth anniversary
This past weekend, the the NBA and the Royal Bafokeng Sports department celebrated the ninth season of the Jr. NBA league in South Africa's North West Province with the 2019 Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA Finals which took place in Phokeng.
The festivities tipped off on Friday evening with the annual Jr. NBA Awards Gala Dinner, which was graced by His Majesty, the King of the Royal Bafokeng Nation, Kgosi Leruo Molotlegi; FIBA Africa President and Basketball Africa League Chairman of the Board, Anibal Manave; Rwandan Basketball Federation President, Desire Mugwiza; two-time NBA Champion with the Los Angeles Lakers, Didier Mbenga; WNBA and Mozambique Legend, Clarisse Machanguana; Toronto Raptors Director of Global Scouting and International Affairs, Patrick Engelbrecht; and NBA Africa Managing Director and Basketball Africa League President, Amadou Gallo Fall.
The evening saw 36 students, coaches, teachers and parents being recognised for their academic and sports achievements as well as their contribution to the community.
One of the highlights of the event was a discussion with Toronto Raptors director of global scouting Patrick Engelbrecht who represented the reigning NBA champions and arrived with the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
“It’s unbelievable being here, coming off of winning the NBA Championship and being able to share it with all the people here, all the kids, all the coaches, everybody that’s been here from day one working to build this program. It’s just special, words really can’t describe it,” he said.
At the end of the evening, Engelbrecht, former NBA Africa Technical Director Joby Wright and NBA Africa Director of Basketball Operations Franck Traore were recognised with the Founders Award. The three spearheaded basketball operations and the launch of the Royal Bafokeng Jr. NBA program back in 2011.
Saturday saw some on-court action with the finals games which featured six championship games in the primary school, middle school and high school boys and girls divisions.
The winners were: Ramotse Primary Girls, Mafenya Boys (Primary Schools), Molotlegi Girls, Kitsong School Boys (Middle Schools), Molotlegi Secondary School Girls and Kitsong School Boys (High Schools).
“Last night, we had our awards for the most deserving young boys and girls in the program who are not only excelling on the court but they are doing tremendous work in the classrooms. We also recognised some of the parents for their outstanding support. It’s critically important to have parents involved in activities for their children and we know that sport can be an unbelievable tool to help young people grow with the right values to become better citizens, better members of their communities because of the character development opportunities that sports present. This is a highlight for me every year,” said Fall.