First Jr. NBA League in Qatar tips off

First Jr. NBA League in Qatar tips off

The Peninsula

Doha, Qatar: Basketball fever is gripping Qatar Foundation’s Education City as the first Jr. NBA League in Qatar tips off, bringing together nearly 450 girls and boys from across the country to represent all 30 NBA teams.

The league, which began last month and will take place over several weekends, concluding with the finals on June 7-8, is being hosted by Qatar Foundation (QF), in collaboration with the NBA, and supported by the Qatar Basketball Federation.

Designed to promote the core values of basketball such as teamwork, respect, and perseverance, the program aims to foster a love for the game from a young age and encourage grassroots participation, while increasing involvement at all levels of the sport.

The NBA’s Her Time to Play program, which provides opportunities for girls and women to play basketball and pursue careers in coaching and athletic leadership, is running alongside the league, and a series of panel discussions and teaching clinics are being hosted as part of the initiative.

Action during the Jr. NBA League games at Qatar Foundation’s Education City. 

Sylvia Fowles, a two-time WNBA champion, 2017 WNBA Most Valuable Player, eight-time WNBA All-Star, and four-time Olympic gold medalist, attended the launch of the Her Time to Play programming and the Jr. NBA Draft, saying: “I am loving seeing the talent that you are presenting for the future – Qatar’s youth looks phenomenal, and I can’t wait to see what this looks like in the next couple of years.”

And, as she spoke to the young athletes, she offered them some advice as they participate in the league, saying: “Enjoy the moment, be present, and have fun.”

QF Media Director Aljazi T Al Henzab said: “The Jr. NBA League isn’t just about basketball, it’s a platform for our young athletes to grow, learn, and develop. We are focused on instilling crucial life skills, like teamwork, discipline, and sportsmanship, that go beyond the court. To all the young athletes joining us, success goes beyond winning and losing – it’s about the lessons learned, friendships made, and the character you build along the way. Embrace challenges, strive for excellence, and always play with integrity.”

Palestinian Salim Abdalla is 12 years old and plays for Evolution Sports Qatar – his team is representing the Sacramento Kings. “I have been playing basketball for about 4-5 years,” he said.

“My favourite thing about it is the games – and the tight moments when you need your teammates the most.

“I am really looking forward to being part of this league - my dream is to hopefully play in the NBA one day.”

12-year-old Mira Hajor is from Lebanon and plays for Qatar Academy for Science and Technology – part of QF’s Pre-University Education.

Her team is representing the New York Knicks, and she said: “I have been playing since I was five years old. I am looking forward to having fun and enjoying myself during the league – and I am excited for the finals."