iCoachKids: Innovative Education & Training for a Specialist Children & Youth Coaching Workforce.

iCoachKids and FIBA’s International Basketball Foundation strengthening Mini Basketball throughout Asia

The FIBA Asia Mini Basketball Convention took place from 14 to 15 December in Colombo, Sri Lanka. It gathered over 750 children and 97 delegates and coaches from 22 countries.

The Mini Basketball Convention was divided in three main parts.

The first was a Jamboree organized by the SLBF (Sri Lanka Basketball Federation) and the Sri Lanka Schools Basketball Association, gathering more than 750 players of both genders under the age of 12 from selected schools countrywide. The IBF ensured each child was able to go home with a Basketball donated by Molten.

"We believe that the event gave kids a lasting impression to engage in a great sport and make it a part of their life" exclaimed Sanath Jayalath, President of the Sri Lanka School Basketball Association and Vice-President of the Sri Lanka Basketball Federation.

This was followed by an interactive coaches clinic session with Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial, Reader in Sport Coaching at Leeds Beckett University & International Council for Coaching Excellence and iCoachKids Project Director and Fadi Sabbah, leader in Mini Basketball for over 20 years. The aim was to present the idea and philosophy of game-based learning in Mini Basketball, how to get kids engaged in training and make them love the game at a young age. The on-court session included exercises demonstrated by a team of local young players in addition to the active participation of the international delegates and national coaches in instructive team building activities.

The following day was dedicated to the conference which gathered international speakers sharing their experience.

The iCoachKids philosophy of creating positive environments for children in sports was presented by Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial. In a very interactive session, he encouraged the delegates to think about potential solutions to issues they all face. He then addressed the role of coaches, reemphasizing the importance of ensuring a fun environment for kids.

Dr. Lara-Bercial explained:

 “the philosophy of iCoachKids is about understanding that sport participation can give children a lot more than just physical and technical skills; it is about putting the child at the centre of all we do and making sure sport is a positive and enriching experience where children develop as people first and athletes second. At the FIBA/IBF coaching clinics we have been able to demonstrate this philosophy in action during our on-court sessions with local children and also in interactive workshops with the delegates from all the region’s national federations as well as local coaches. We are delighted to share our free resources with the FIBA family”

IBF Executive TJ Bullock said: 

"It was an honor to once again have Dr Sergio Lara-Bercial be the keynote speaker and presenter at the inaugural FIBA Asia Mini Basketball Convention. The philosophy of iCoachKids perfectly complements what we are trying to instil in our National Federations globally to promote a fun environment for kids and for their initial experience with basketball to be a positive one."

All delegates were pleased to have attended the event. Sana Mahmoud, a delegate from Pakistan stated:

“It was a great networking opportunity to meet with people across the Asia region and learn about the wonderful different types of Mini Basketball programs they’re running. Pakistan has a long way to go but such opportunities are great for us to understand how to get there. I plan to pass on what I’ve learnt at the convention and see how we can decide a program starting from within my city at first.”

Andrea Paoli, National Federations & Sport Manager of the FIBA Regional Office Asia stated:

“It was a great experience collaborating closely between the Regional Office and the IBF. Mini Basketball is a key area to focus on in Asia in order to invest in the youth of tomorrow. This convention gives innovative tools and concepts to coaches and administrators, and it is our role now to make sure that these learnings are translated into concrete actions: encouraging the organization of more Mini Basketball events and the spread of the Mini Basketball philosophy.”

IBF President Sheikh Saud Bin Ali Al-Thani concluded:

 "This is already the fourth Mini Basketball convention we have had this year and we see the same enthusiasm on each continent. I am confident that the Mini Basketball movement is developing rapidly and look forward to the continuous growth of the Basketball Family around the globe".

The last continent to host a Mini Basketball convention will be the Americas in Hermosillo, Mexico from 31 January to 3 February 2019 and iCoachKids will be represented again by Dr Lara-Bercial to continue spreading the iCK philosophy and resources.

iCoachKids is co-funded by an Erasmus+ grant and led by Leeds Beckett University (LBU) and the International Council for Coaching Excellence (ICCE). It brings together another six world-class organisations with a common desire to support children and youth coaches and a proven track record of doing so. These include Sport Ireland Coaching, the Hungarian Coaches Association, the Netherlands Olympic Committee, the European University of Madrid, Lithuanian Sport University, and the Royal Belgian Football Association.