Local basketball league kicking off fall season
While most Airdronians look forward to a relaxing break over the summer, the volunteer board of Airdrie Minor Basketball Association (AMBA) has been working nonstop preparing for the upcoming fall season, which kicks off next week with player evaluations. Online registrations through AMBA’s new website have been rolling in since mid-July, with 99 per cent of the players taking advantage of the convenient electronic payment system.
AMBA President, Dave Maffitt says he is excited about the changes the league is making to improve its community youth basketball program, which has about 250 players from the ages of six to 19.
“This year we are introducing the Steve Nash Youth Basketball (SNYB) program for our Tykes (age 6-7) and Mini (ages 8-10) divisions,” said Maffitt. “All of our Tyke and Mini coaches will receive training and follow-up mentoring to successfully teach the fundamentals of the game using the SNYB system. We hope to have over 120 players and coaches in the SNYB program this year.”
The SNYB program was developed by Canada Basketball and is a national youth basketball initiative designed to develop fundamental skills, sportsmanship and a love for the game of basketball. The grassroots program supports and empowers community-based recreational groups and facilities, schools and other institutions across Canada in an effort to positively influence youth through basketball. The goal of the program is to allow participants the opportunity to maximize their potential, while promoting the importance of youth basketball as a vehicle to build character, discipline and self-esteem.
The model for Steve Nash Youth Basketball was established after extensive research of existing community basketball programs from across North America and follows the guidelines of Sport Canada’s Long Term Athlete Development Model (LTAD). The program is flexible in nature to allow local organizers to adapt the program and implement it in their community while following its principles and philosophies.
In addition to the SNYB program, AMBA is providing its coaches of older age groups with National Coach Certification Program (NCCP) training over two weekends in mid-September, before the season starts, with the help of Basketball Alberta. Maffitt said that the NCCP training is also based on the LTAD and is adapted for the game of basketball. “We want all of our coaches to receive this training, so that we have consistency on what, how and when the critical fundamental skills are taught to optimize the development of our players,” he said. “We want everyone (coaches) on the same page.”
AMBA is also looking at adopting the Respect in Sport program this year. Respect in Sport is Canada’s only on-line bullying, abuse, harassment and neglect prevention program for coaches and community leaders. Founded in 2004 by partners Wayne McNeil and former NHL hockey player Sheldon Kennedy, Respect in Sport has been developed in consultation with the Canadian Red Cross to protect youth, inform leaders, and mitigate an organization's liability.
Through education, it helps retain recreation leaders, coaches, officials and volunteers by making them less vulnerable and more confident in dealing with sensitive issues. Maffitt said that while sports like hockey and soccer have been the focus of the program so far, the same issues are present in all youth sports including basketball.
By adding Respect in Sport to our program, AMBA will be the first basketball organization in Alberta to do so and we will be making a clear statement to all of our stakeholders that youth basketball is not about winning at any cost,” he said.