Euroleague Basketball is excited to announce the launch of EuroLeague Academy, a new and innovative series of youth basketball tournaments for boys and girls that is being staged in four different cities during the next few weeks.
This grassroots project was formally introduced in Tel Aviv on Saturday, with the tip-off of a competition for the under-12 age group.
Over the next two months, 16 teams will compete in a regular season consisting of two groups of eight teams in a single round-robin format, with the top four teams from both groups then progressing to a knockout phase which culminates in a single-day Final Four.
Similar tournaments will also be staged in Athens and Istanbul between now and May. The launch of the EuroLeague Academy also includes an event in Vitoria-Gasteiz during the Turkish Airlines EuroLeague Final Four from May 17 to 19.
Roser Queralto, Euroleague Basketball Chief Business Officer, said: "We are very excited to introduce this ground-breaking new project, which will give a significant boost to the growth and promotion of grassroots basketball all over the EuroLeague territories.
"With the valuable support of our clubs and their local communities, we are committed to nurturing and developing the basketball skills of young boys and girls and feed their love for the game within a well-organized, competitive environment that also embraces the core values of sport and of the EuroLeague. The EuroLeague Academy will give opportunities to hundreds of children to enjoy our wonderful sport and this weekend's launch in Tel Aviv was just the beginning for an important long-term project."
The opening event in Tel Aviv took place on Saturday with the support of traditional EuroLeague powerhouse Maccabi Fox Tel Aviv. The team's former star player Doron Jamchi joined the CEO of Maccabi's youth department, Alon Ben Zaken, and EuroLeague Academy Manager Rok Bizjak for the official launch at the Hadar Yosef National Sports Center in Tel Aviv.
The tournament in Tel Aviv includes 16 teams, totalling 240 boys and girls, born in 2007 or later. A dozen of the teams come from Maccabi's youth program, with the remaining four representing schools in the Tel Aviv area (Magen, Nitzanim, Ramat Hahayal and Bloch).
Alon Ben Zaken, CEO of Maccabi's youth department, said:
“It is an honor for Maccabi Tel Aviv to be part of the EuroLeague Academy and to start this project for the community and provide the opportunity to children to play and enjoy basketball. Maccabi is very happy to be the first club to open this project in Europe and we hope that together this project is going to make a big impact for the kids in our community."
Doron Jamchi, Maccabi Tel Aviv legend and One Team Ambassador, said:
"I am very happy that the EuroLeague Academy and Maccabi Tel Aviv are organizing such events to involve kids with the clubs and the league. Kids can see the EuroLeague games on TV, but a chance to get to wear the EuroLeague Academy jersey gives them an opportunity to become part of the EuroLeague themselves, which brings them great pride and joy."