By Shaan Mohamed
A new partnership between Bell Canada and the National Basketball Association, along with Canada Basketball, will open up new opportunities for fans and aspiring players alike to experience the sport, experts told Humber News Thursday.
The new partnership will allow fans to access a plethora of content on their smartphones and tablets for both the upcoming season and the 2014 NBA playoffs, said the Bell press release earlier this month.
Bell will also help develop the Canadian Basketball teams on both the amateur and professional levels.
“I think it’s great for Canada Basketball, although it doesn’t have a direct impact on Ontario Basketball since that branch isn’t connected to the provincial governing bodies, but it’s great news for Canada Basketball and the growth of their national programs and teams,” said Michael Cvitkovic, the Executive Director of Ontario Basketball.
“Certainly, any opportunity to promote the game at any level will be beneficial for our athletes at a grassroots level or a higher performance level,” Cvitkovic told Humber News.
Basketball is one of the fastest growing team sports in the country, and Bell’s new partnership is looking to help accelerate that growth, the press release said.
“Youth across Canada are playing more basketball in more places than ever before,” said Loring Phinney, Bell’s Vice President of Corporate Marketing.
The new initiative appears to be catching on, including at Humber College, which currently has an informal relationship with Canada Basketball.
“We’ve always had an open door policy and always made ourselves available to Canada basketball when the schedules mesh up with where we can assist them,” said Shawn Collins, the head coach of Humber’s Men’s Varsity basketball team.
“We’ve stepped up and always helped out with the program in the sense of giving training times and individual training times at our facility to better improve their teams and their players.”
Collins believes that any sort of backing from a major corporation can only have a positive impact on the future of Canadian basketball.
“I think anytime you get a national corporate sponsor and the more [sponsors] you get I think it definitely helps any team’s profile,” said Collins.
“I think moving forward with the acquisition of Steve Nash and Jay Triano and Rowan Barrett, that turned around and changed the face of Canada Basketball. Then adding BlackBerry and Bell and all corporate sponsorship in the forefront definitely puts them [Canada Basketball] in the forefront and gives them more exposure,” he said.
“Young kids today look at the players moving up to Canada basketball; your Andrew Wiggins’, Tyler Ennis’ and all the kids that played for us in the past like Andy Rautins and Joel Anthony, kids will be inspired to play for Canada in the future and make it one of their goals moving forward as a young basketball player.”
Overall, Canadian basketball has a bright future, said Cvitkovic .
“I think [we’ll see] more of the same,” he said.
“A large percentage of the athletes that are in our national programs have come from Ontario and we’re very proud of that. A number of clubs particularly, that are the lifeblood for basketball in this country, are continuing to work hard to develop talents.”