NEWS

They learn basketball and have fun

The “Kids Basketball Festival” was held for the 7th time this year. Ülker, which has sponsored the festival for the past four years, is the largest supporter of Turkish sports. The event was hosted in Konya this year from June 24 – 28, 2009. A total of 48 boys’ teams and 16 girls’ teams, from 32 provinces participated in the tournaments.

To avoid undue psychological damage to the kids, this 5-day festival attended by children from all over the country, has no winners or losers. Besides playing sports, the kids had ample opportunities for getting to know each other and were treated to a tour of the Mevlana Museum, games of skill, picnics and a nutritional seminar  Almost 1,000 children were at the festival and all of them received medals and a certificate of participation at the closing of the event.

The Ülker Kids Basketball Festival is held every year during the first week of June. Close to 1,000 children from all regions of the country flock to the festival to enjoy playing basketball, have fun, get to know each other and learn about new things… At the end of the 5 days, kids are presented with medals and head back home with new information and new friendships. The big brothers and sisters who have attended the festival and moved on to the more advanced teams are replaced every year with a new bunch of children. 

Thanks to the little players, their parents also become experts in basketball jargon. Grandmothers watching from the bleachers are heard to exclaim, “Cover, cover, cover…Come on son, grab that rebound”.  When an opposing team makes the mistake and forgets to dribble the ball, a mother jumps up and yells, “Traveling!”  Not only the kids, but moms, dads, grandfathers, grandmothers and neighbors learn basketball terms like “press, traveling, rebound, assist and lay-up” …

Everyone wins at this festival
The most significant characteristic of this festival is that there are no winners or losers… This is because the purpose of the event is not to determine championships but to eliminate the stress of competition, foster a spirit of fair play and attitudes such as respect for their opponents, behaving in a sportsmanlike manner and friendly rivalry. They are also encouraged to develop new friendships. Even children who have no hope of becoming professional player are encouraged to become good spectators, managers, referees and fans… In short, the purpose is to produce more fans and spectators who understand the sport and love it…
Turkish Basketball Federation and Ülker managers organize activities besides sports during the festivals. They plan social and cultural activities to enrich the festival experience for the kids.

For example, last year in Izmir, kids who took part in the festival were taken on a tour of the maritime museum, watched a movie called “Nım’s Island” and were met by members of TEMA who taught them about global warming.

This year’s program was highlighted by a tour of the Mevlana Museum and an informative presentation by nutritional experts from Selçuk University. On the last day of the Festival, a picnic was organized, medals were awarded and certificates of participation were distributed to all the kids.

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