The presentation of the annual Copa Colegial, a school-level competition played throughout Spain in partnership with Euroleague Basketball, was held in Barcelona on Tuesday to launch the 12th edition of this broad initiative to bring basketball to more and more students across the country.
Tuesday's presentation also served to celebrate the new five-year partnership agreement between Euroleague Basketball and Fundación Baloncesto Colegial that promises to help increase the reach and impact of the Copa Colegial. The objective of the partnership is to give young people more and longer opportunities to enjoy their favorite sport in an environment of competition and sportsmanship.
"Being here helps us understand where it all begins, in the schools," Jordi Bertomeu, President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball, told the assembled guests. "It allows us to remember the values that we share and develop from the start. They are values that have to do with sharing, working, improving, the team, the feeling that the group is more important than the individual, and especially the effort made towards teammates that is reduced to one word: solidarity. This is what we learn when we start playing, and later Victor and Pau show it on the court every week, or even more often, because we make them work plenty. The possibility of being here and getting back to the starting point is a great opportunity and that's why we thank you all for having us."
Among the attendees at the season launch were FC Barcelona Lassa stars Pau Ribas and Victor Claver, not to mention one of the club's legends of the past, Audie Norris, as well as Alberto López, the president of the Fundación Baloncesto Colegial, and Xavier Bertolín, the director of the education area of Fundación Bancaria "La Caixa".
In the newest edition, the Copa Colegial – or, collegiate cup – will be played by 200 schools across nine of Spain's biggest cities – Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla, Zaragoza, Valencia, Vitoria, Malaga, A Coruña and Valladolid – including all five that have teams in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague.
The presentation was held at Escola Pia Sarria, which was the first school in Barcelona to join the Copa Colegial and has participated in five editions, finishing as boys runner-up in 2016 and girls semifinalist last season.
"The key is to keep enjoying basketball with your classmates," Ribas said.
"Even though now you see us playing games in the EuroLeague," Claver told the students, "we also began playing basketball in the schoolyard."