Jumpball celebrates two decades of youth development through basketball

Saturday, July 21, 2018

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The 2018 edition of the KFC-sponsored Jumpball Basketball Youth Camp tipped off on July 9, with approximately 300 boys and girls taking part.

Jumpball teaches youngsters the fundamentals of basketball while also seeking to impart principles of discipline, teamwork and respect. The camp, which began at National Stadium in Kingston, includes past campers who volunteer as coaches. The camp will move from Kingston on to Montego Bay, Santa Cruz, Oracabessa, Ocho Rios, and Mandeville. The camp concludes in Jamaica on August 18 before the Jumpball team heads off to Haiti to offer a similar programme to that country's young, aspiring players.

Founded in 1995 by Will Maloney and Chad Sutcliffe, Jumpball is an annual summer camp for Jamaican youth. The founders fell in love with the potential for growth on the local basketball scene while coaching the St George's College basketball team. The co-directors are both based in the United States but return each year to facilitate the summer camp, along with Jumpball past participants who are now coaches.

“We wanted to create something bigger than ourselves that could stand the test of time,” said Maloney. “Something that is one hundred per cent self-sustaining, teaches kids about basketball, and offers a holistic, individual development programme.”

The 2018 camp started on July 9 and will run up until August in various locations across Jamaica. In addition to basketball equipment and nets, KFC Jamaica provides lunches for the camp participants and coaches every day of the camp.

“Jumpball has been a perfect fit for KFC Jamaica, which is why we have been on board for over two decades,” said Andrei Roper, brand manager for KFC. “This camp is totally free to participants. It is aimed at youth development through sports and provides an avenue for Jamaican children to grow and develop outside of the classroom.”

The week-long annual Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Camp, which runs from July 22-27 at G C Foster College in St Catherine, is now in its 18th year and received National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) certification in 2017. The camp provides young Jamaican basketball players with an avenue to showcase their talent to US college coaches and recruiters, and earn an invaluable opportunity to gain tertiary level scholarships to attend overseas universities.

Camp participants include over 120 of Jamaica's top-performing secondary school basketball players. In addition to training, participants obtain invaluable feedback that will assist them both on and off the court, and are evaluated on a variety of measurables in an effort to improve their current skill and performance level.

The NCAA certification has provided significant motivation for the campers, as to date more than 150 student athletes have secured overseas scholarships as a result of participation in the Star Search Camp, in which an average of 10 American college coaches and scouts take part each year.

Among some of the noteworthy visitors to the camp over the years are NBA Hall of Fame player, Jamaican-born Patrick Ewing and former American College and NBA head coach Rick Pitino.

“The Star Search Basketball and Life Skills Camp is really the finisher for the Jamaican youth basketball scene,” said Roper. “With Jamaican-born players such as Samardo Samuels, Jerome Jordan and Kimani Ffriend — who all went on to play in the NBA — having honed their skills at an early age in the Star Search camp, KFC is proud to have been on board from the onset, and we are excited to see even more Jamaicans receiving college scholarships and ultimately pursuing their dream of a professional career in the sport of basketball.

“However, just as important as their on-the-court development, is the impact that Star Search has had in developing well rounded young men and women who will go on to contribute positively to society, even outside of the sport of basketball.”

KFC has been dedicated to the growth and development of sports in Jamaica, shaping and supporting various programmes on different levels. These include the ISSA Basketball League; the National Basketball League; the National Male & Female Basketball Teams; children's camps like Jumpball, Star Search Camp and Elite Academy; and JABA initiatives for decades.

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