Symbion Power had a lot to celebrate recently: the Jakaya M. Kikwete Youth Park (JMK Park) in Dar es Salaam, which Symbion Power helped develop, celebrated its 50,000th user, its one-year anniversary and hosted an exciting Jnr NBA League Finals event where 2000 people attended.
Since opening its doors in October 2015, the Jakaya M. Kikwete Youth Park (JMK Park) has become an epicentre of activity in the lives of many young boys and girls in Dar as Salaam. A multi-sport facility, open seven days a week, the Park’s staff of professionally licensed coaches is dedicated to providing sports and healthy lifestyle education opportunities to disadvantaged youth and the community.
One of the most popular programmes is the Jr. NBA League. The Park held the first Jr. NBA League Finals on November 5, hosted by the NBA, in collaboration with Symbion Power and Pepsi. This exciting event was open to the public, including friends andfamilies of the participating schools and more than 2000 people attended.
‘Partnering with local schools is the perfect way for the Park to engage with the community, and we are extremely proud of the Jr. NBA League, which is made up of 450 players, and 30 participating schools from the area,’ said Mr Ray Power, the Technical Director of the Park. The Jr. NBA Finals Event was a day to remember for the entire community.
In addition to the excitement of the season’s championship game, the event featured a DJ, music, local entertainment from the schools and some special guests. The inaugural Jr. NBA Finals’ guest of honor was His Excellency, former President of the Republic of Tanzania, Jakaya M. Kikwete. The event also featured 2016 WNBA Champion with the Los Angeles Sparks and four-time WNBA All-Star, Alana Beard, President of the Toronto Raptors, Masai Ujiri, former NBA player Obinna Ekezie and Tanzanian artist Jokate Mwegelo.
The inaugural season of the Jr. NBA League at JMK Park, a school-based basketball programme for boys ages 12-14, tipped off in February. The league featured 30 teams from schools across Dar es Salaam competing in Eastern and Western Conferences, with each school representing one of the 30 NBA teams. The Jr. NBA League is the NBA’s global youth basketball participation programme for boys and girls, and teaches them fundamental basketball skills as well as the core values of the game at a grassroots level in an effort to help grow and improve the youth basketball experience for players, coaches and parents.
In addition to the league final, the event also featured a Girls’ Jr. NBA exhibition game. The girls who took part in the exhibition game will form a part of the Girls Jr. NBA League set to launch early next year.
‘It’s a real pleasure for us to host the Jr. NBA finals to celebrate the first season of the league in 2016. I’m also proud that we will soon start the Jr. NBA league for girls, and it’s really amazing that we have Alana Beard here today from the LA Sparks, fresh off her WNBA championship win in the US just two weeks ago. Her presence and that of the others from the NBA here shows how seriously they are committed to growing the game in Tanzania and across the continent. More than 53,000 people have signed up to use the park. It is free to everyone – ensuring that we provide access for all. I hope to see other investors following our lead.’ Paul Hinks, Chief Executive Officer, Symbion Power
‘The Park has exceeded all expectations in its first year. One of the best ways to measure the impact of JMK Park on the community is by looking at the number of people we reach, so seeing that more than 50,000 girls, boys and adults are engaging with the facility in such a short period really is a huge achievement for everyone involved.’ Technical Director Ray Power.
In its first year, the Park’s range of sports and education programmes originally offered have been refined and expanded into what is now a diverse time table of 16 programmes, designed to engage children on and off the field with skills-based athletic coaching and lifestyle education including programs focused on HIV/AIDS and Malaria awareness. Targeted groups include elite footballers, female participants, members of the community with disabilities, schools and street children.
11-year-old Elia Mbwawa Mazengo became the 50,000th new user to register at the Park recently – making the one-year anniversary of the Park even more meaningful.