The opening ceremony for the 2016/17 school basketball league took place in the sports hall of Berezniki Construction College on 26 November. During the opening ceremony in Berezniki, Valdemaras Homichus, the Olympic champion, world champion and two-time European champion, gave a master class.
Over 80 teams, consisting of about 1,000 pupils between the second and fourth grades from 28 Berezniki and Solikamsk schools, will play in the school league this season. Each team has 12 players. All games will be played according to the mini-basketball rules set by the Russian Basketball Federation. The third and fourth grade teams from Berezniki and Solikamsk, which finished first and second in their respective teams, will meet in the “Final Four” in the spring of 2017. The tournament’s best players will be invited to join the Berezniki and Solikamsk teams for their age groups.
Mikhail Presnyakov, leader of Uralkali’s “Development of Basketball as a Mass Sport for Children and Adolescents in Berezniki and Solikamsk” project, commented:
“The school basketball league, which is supported by Uralkali, is a unique sports project in Russia. Only here can primary school pupils try their hand at serious competitions, as in our country only children in the fifth grade and above can play official basketball games. Children’s sports are the basis for professional sports and a foundation of future victories. The school basketball league helps coaches find the best young players. Young athletes, in turn, can prove themselves in games with peers, experience the spirit of competition and then go on to play basketball at a higher level.”
Uralkali’s project to develop basketball as a mass sport in Berezniki and Solikamsk has been running since 2013. The aim of the project is to popularise basketball as an accessible sport for a large number of people, as well as to promote a healthy lifestyle among young people. During that time, 28 basketball centres have been opened in Berezniki and Solikamsk, where approximately 1,500 athletes between the ages of 5 and 15 train. The kids are trained by International Basketball Federation specialists from Serbia, as well as and Russian higher category coaches with experience in the leading basketball centres. Project participants, together with their coaches, take part in international, national and regional competitions. Uralkali has bought 2,000 sets of kit for the children, as well as sports equipment and has repaired 10 sports halls.
Uralkali (www.uralkali.com) is one of the world’s largest potash producers and exporters. The Company’s assets consist of 5 mines and 7 ore-treatment mills situated in the towns of Berezniki and Solikamsk (Perm Territory, Russia). Uralkali employs ca.11,000 people (in the main production unit). Uralkali’s shares are traded on the Moscow Exchange.