Former NBA player Kimani Ffriend joins Hoop Kidz basketball

Thursday, September 20, 2018

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FORMER NBA player and retired professional basketballer Kimani Ffriend has joined the coaching and management team of the Hoop Kidz Basketball Camp.

Ffriend, who has played for NBA teams such as the Miami Heat, LA Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies and an even longer list of clubs in Europe and South America, says that the partnership with Hoop Kidz was “a no brainer”.

“When I retired and returned to Jamaica after playing for so many years in Europe, I wanted to get involved in building basketball at the grass-roots level here at home. Even though I only started playing basketball at age 15 in Jamaica, I was still able to have a lucrative professional career in the sport despite the late start. I strongly believe therefore that if we introduce basketball to kids at a much earlier age, we will find some real potential and talent here in our primary and prep schools.”

The 6'11” Ffriend added that when he met Dwight Jarrett, director of Hoop Kidz and the rest of the Hoop Kidz team, it was immediately clear to him that they shared a similar vision and perspective on what needs to happen to move the sport forward.

Jarrett, a former high school and local club player himself, says that he is very excited at what Kimani brings to Hoop Kidz and to Jamaica in general. “Here you have someone who has not only played the sport at the highest levels,” says Jarrett, “but also knows what it takes to make it in almost all of the numerous basketball leagues worldwide. No one else in Jamaica right now can offer such a vast combination of skills, knowledge and experience in the game and we are excited to have him on board.”

Hoop Kidz launched its first camp, the Hoop Kidz Summer Basketball Camp last July. It was run by experienced local coaches Dwayne Cunningham and Roger Marshall and held at the Jamaica College basketball court. The camp enrolled a total of 30 children aged 7-12 with various levels of prior skills and experience. By the end of the camp, Jarrett says, all the children had shown marked improvement and had developed a real love for the game.

“We know that once kids start to play basketball they wouldn't put it down,” he added. “So we had long sessions with our coaches devising programmes that left smiles on our campers faces, as opposed to having them panting for breath. That level of strenuous training will come later but for now, we only want them to enjoy the game.”

And enjoy it they did. One parent, Sharon Williamson, whose son Cody attended the Hoop Kidz summer camp this year, says “Cody had a wonderful time at the Hoop Kidz camp last summer. Not only did he improve his basketball skills but he also made some new friends and although he's left Hillel and has started at Campion this term, he's already looking forward to the weekend camp when it restarts.”

The Hoop Kidz Weekend camp was set to begin last Saturday at Jamaica College and will run for 10 weeks. It will teach kids various basketball skills such as dribbling, shooting and ball handling and is part of a long-term vision to resuscitate the sport by introducing it to kids at a much earlier age. To sign up, parents are invited to call 876-487-2826, to visit the camp's website at www.hoopkidzja.com or via facebook at facebook.com/hoopkidzja.

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