EuroLeague Academy, working to develop grassroots basketball at schools across various cities in Europe, took another step in that process by participating in the presentation of the Copa Colegial tournament in Madrid, Spain on Tuesday.
Real Madrid stars Felipe Reyes and Facundo Campazzo joined the tipoff event of this year's 13th edition of the school tournament, which attracts more than 5,000 student participants from 200 schools in nine major Spanish cities, including five whose local clubs play in the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague or the 7DAYS EuroCup: Madrid, Barcelona, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Valencia, and Malaga.
"I won the intramural league at my high school, where basketball was the main sport, and that's why I am very aware of this type of tournament," Reyes said. "What's most important is that the kids have fun and play because they like it."
"I would love to have won the Copa Colegial," Campazzo said. "Playing with friends and making stories together in that phase of adolescence is very important for the formation of young people."
Euroleague Basketball and Fundacion Baloncesto Colegial, which runs the Copa Colegial, have a five-year partnership that aims to increase the importance and presence of basketball among students. Together, they aim to offer young people the unique experience of representing their schools on the court and bonding through basketball with fellow students.
"Euroleague Basketball is not only proud to help the Copa Colegial bring all the benefits of basketball to a new generation of students here in Spain, but also to spread those benefits to schools elsewhere in Europe," Abigail Martin, Euroleague Basketball's Director of Corporate Social Responsibility and Development Projects, said during the event.
"Those of us who learned to love basketball while playing in school know how well education and sports go together," Joe Arlauckas, Euroleague Basketball Ambassador and Copa Colegial Ambassador, added. "This tournament brings schools and students together under the umbrella of a great sport, and you've got to love that."
In Spain, anticipation for the school basketball season is felt nationwide, with the Copa Colegial offering young people the tournament itself, which advances from municipal to national elimination rounds for both male and female players, to an all-star game, the award for the best student-athlete and even a place in the future school basketball hall of fame!
"Thank you to the Colegio Alameda de Osuna and all the sponsors that help us each year," Alberto López Ribé, president of the Fundacion Baloncesto Colegial, said. "Now, let the fun begin!"
For 2018-19, the Euroleague Commercial Assets Shareholders Executive Board has marked the goal of extending the EuroLeague Academy program of exposing basketball to more and more children by partnering with additional organizations in other European countries.