Shooting hoops should be child’s play

The NBA has launched a junior program in Canada to get kids interested in basketball at a younger age

In a bid to get more kids playing basketball earlier in their lives, the NBA has launched a Jr. NBA Rookie Division program in Canada (kids in this country start playing on average at the age of  9).

Aimed at introducing kids ages 5 to 7 to the game, the program was launched in 125 clubs this year and is expected to reach about 5,000 children across the country. It focuses on teaching kids skills, such as running, jumping, throwing and catching, balance, agility, and co-ordination as well as fundamental basketball skills.

In Quebec, seven organizations are offering the program. The West Island Lakers Basketball Association is offering 45-minute sessions, once a week for 4- and 5-year-olds (born in 2010 and 2011), as it already has a program in place for children ages 6 and 7.

“They don’t even realize they’re playing basketball because we have them doing all sorts of games — it’s adorable,” said Chris Piazza, one of the association’s directors and its Jr. NBA coordinator.

The association took part in the Jr. NBA pilot program last year. Piazza said it’s heartwarming to watch the kids try a new sport while some of their younger siblings look on, hopefully  inspiring another generation to give basketball a try.

Piazza said he believes learning to play a sport helps improve a child’s self-esteem. “If kids develop a skill, it gives them an edge and that can help with their confidence,” he said.

The McGill Students’ Basketball Association is also offering the program for children ages 5 to 7. It has 45-minute sessions once a week, taught by a team of McGill students who are also basketball aficionados and have experience working with kids. The student-run club, which just started this year, is also trying to start a program it calls Hoops for Youth, where they visit schools, promote health and wellness and introduce kids to basketball.

The McGill Students’ Basketball Association session begins Jan. 31 at the McGill Sports Complex on Pine Ave. The 12-week session will cost $100 if you register before Jan. 20 and $125 after that date. For more information, call Chris Bolombo at 905-962-9558 or visit

The West Island Lakers will begin a Jr. NBA session Sunday, Jan. 3 at John Rennie High School in Pointe-Claire. The 10-week session will cost $100. For more information, visit

Other associations offering the program 

Club de basketball Les Tornades (Longueuil)

DOD Basketball (St. Leonard)

Basketball Laval
450-664-1917, ext. 303

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