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Ecuador's Mini Basketball grows and looks forward to 2020

GUAYAQUIL (Ecuador) – The formation and development of children are fundamental for the future of sports, which is why the Ecuadorian Basketball Federation (FEB) is hosting by the end of the year several Mini Basketball festivals to continue to strengthen basketball in the South American country.

Festivals are great events that surround basketball and help to foster the sport’s development. The FEB has been working on a new process since 2013 and this year they particularly focused on the formation of children to try to improve the first-division league and allow it to last between 6 or 7 months and motivates the while increasing the available talents for the Ecuador national teams.

Under José Arévalo’s presidency, the Federation organized the first national tournament for the U13 category and the Mini Basketball Festival for children of up to 11 years in 2014. Already in 2015, there were more ages, and the U14 category was added.

In 2018, the same categories were available, and the FEB organized a Mini Basketball festival for children 9 and up, as well as a U21 Development League. Like this, Ecuadorian basketball has been advancing and growing up until this year. There’s a continuous development in formative stages to try to occupy the first places in national team tournaments for men and women and to reach an overall improvement in this South American nation's basketball.

“This is the path and the way established by FIBA for countries that have development potential in adult categories, and we believe that we’ll witness the results later on. We've been fostering club participation in these categories because we believe that it's a fundamental element to develop not only skills and abilities in children but also discipline, orientation, and education. This is how we're meeting our objectives. It’s an evolution process starting from the base and accompanied by coaching training,” said president José Arévalo to FIBA.basketball.

“We're surprised by the way in which clubs and parents, year after year, are more motivated with these types of tournaments, which are being hosted by the city of Guayaquil for the U13 category. We've always had the support of parents, clubs, and coaches to develop basketball. That's very important,” he pointed out.

And like this, following their motto “Let no one steal the magic of being a kid,” on November 1 and 2 the final stage of the U11 Mini Basketball Tournament “We're All Champions” took place at Fundación Honoroto Haro in Guayaquil. Technical and tactical workshops took place, led by coaches that contributed their knowledge to foster the development and learning of the game, and who were supported by the City of Guayaquil and their Sports Ministry.

“We've experienced the final phase at a national level and through different provinces, and we've talked to different coaches and trainers because we want Mini Basketball to exist. We also want this type of tournament to exist in all provinces so that youth leagues are strengthened and we can then have a national Mini Basketball tournament that helps the player to keep building their knowledge up to the final phase,” said the president of the Ecuadorian federation.

This tournament was held in different zones in three weekends, with a minimum of 10 players (5 boys and 5 girls) and a maximum of 14 players (7 boys and 7 girls). Two-hundred little athletes were given their participation prizes on the Festival’s last day.

“The formative stage needs a goal, and that is to be able to play in the first-division league, which we need to improve. For several years we didn't have this type of tournament or festival that constantly developed players. Today’s children play basketball throughout the entire year and that helps to improve their development. For us, this is a great satisfaction because the results are being noticed little by little in youth categories. Today's results are part of the process,” Arévalo added.

The Festival also featured a skills competition led by Raúl Cárdenás, one of Ecuador’s most well-known players and captain of the senior national team. “I've been playing away from Ecuador for 16 years and when they call me to be in these festivals, I like to contribute my teachings and a message. Internationally speaking, there are no wins or losses in Mini Basketball until they're 12 years old. There's only participation, competition and sportsmanship. If we get children to have fun, that's the real achievement. We have to be united because this is the future and we've all won,” he shared.

To give continuity to the final festivals of 2019, on November 9, 23 and 24 took place the second U9 Pre-Mini National Festival in the cities of Riobamba, Gonzanamá, Guayaquil, Ambato, and Puyo.

One of the clubs participating in these festivals is Piratas de Los Lagos, which has only been functioning for three years. It has developed into an important franchise in Ecuadorian basketball. It's Argentine coach, Luciano Martínez, is particularly interested in reinforcing formative categories and helping to develop the country's boys and girls. “There are institutions that try to have all categories to participate and try to establish themselves as clubs. I'm working with coaches from the entire country, giving courses and seeing the training methodology, and how to share the knowledge with the athletes in training sessions and games,” said the coach to FIBA.basketball.

“Mini basketball is a national movement that's being worked on with more organization and that is being given more importance so that it can be included in the official calendar. I'm working on a methodological guide for children ages 10 to 12, to keep building up as there are more children involved,” added the Piratas de Los Lagos coach.

“Ecuador was absent for a long time from international events, and this absence caused us to lose important pools of players, who in their youth processes could've given a lot; such as Raúl Cárdenas, Carlos Delgado and Aníbal Malatay, great players that were limited in their youth processes. This motivated us to take the initiative, with no (official) process and without international appearances, which is why the fundamental concept is to participate in different tournaments. That process should start from the foundations, from Mini Basketball,” stated Arévalo.

Today, there's talk in Ecuador about medals, qualifications and victories, thanks to the roots planted in Mini Basketball. The parents and the constant support of the Federation were focused on a long-term objective that was built from the hard work done in all categories to prepare, in the best way possible, all players and improve national teams and achieve more and better continental and international appearances.

“Within the context FIBA has created, the same philosophy and goals should be sustained by the coaches in our country. Like this, children will be benefited, and they’ll be able to reach their greatest potential. The important thing is that what has been done can be improved and that a continuous line up is followed and we forget about the negative aspects,” said the President.