Can you imagine 3,000 children dribbling basketballs and beating a world record?
Well, that is exactly what happened about a year ago, just before the national teams of Israel and Spain played an exhibition game. Now, imagine 300,000 basketballs that are expected to be distributed to young Spanish students by the Spanish Basketball Federation (FEB).
That is another sign that Spanish basketball is going through a new season of success.
Players such as Pau Gasol, Navarro, and Raul Lopez are doing their part to help popularize the sport, but a phenomenon like the Sunny 3-on-3, the basketball in-school program, started by FEB in 2001 and reserved to the primary and secondary schools students, deserves everybody’s attention.
FEB organizes and manages a program that involves 19 local basketball associations.
Here is how the project works:
- After a school is enrolled to the program, educational and technical equipment is sent to the school.
- The teachers involved in the project with each school start to develop the program with their students.
- The students involved in the program take part in their local tournaments: the winners represent their community at the provincial tournament.
The schools that participated to the 2003 edition of SUNNY 3-on-3 were 11,500 approximately.
Basic help in the development of the project is provided by Procter & Gamble, the sponsor of the program. Their vitamin-enriched soft drink is called Sunny.
Last year, P&G helped with the distribution of a technical kit that included basic materials, such as balls, nets, and backboards.
A CD that contained interviews with successful coaches and players was also given to motivate young players and their coaches.
This year, a one-hour video is expected to be in the package.
Leading Spanish basketball stars will talk about how they play the game and focus on different aspects of offense and defense.
THE OBJECTIVES OF THE PROGRAM
The main objectives of the program are the growth and popularity of basketball among Spanish students, from the elementary to the secondary schools.
SUNNY 3-on-3, which has involved 3.5 million students in its first year, is extremely popular in Spain.
The teachers involved in the program are physical education instructors. Each teacher involved in SUNNY is expected to teach the basic concepts of basketball and physical conditioning, in order to make them interested in basketball.
In time, the students are expected to demonstrate their skills in local and provincial competition.
Last year, about 4 million students took part in the SUNNY 3-on-3.
Due to the success of the program over the past four years, King Juan Carlos I recently presented one of the most prestigious Spanish sports awards to Segura De Luna, the FEB President.
THE RULES OF PLAY
- SUNNY 3-on-3 is a half court competition.
The teams consist of four players (one of them sits on the bench). The captain of each team also works as “coach” and makes substitutions.
- The maximum length of each game is 20 minutes.
The team reaching 21 points (the team must win by two points, e.g., 21-19) wins the match.
If the two teams are tied at the end of the 20 minutes, each player on the two teams gets a free-throw: the team making most free-throws is the winner of the match.
- All baskets are worth 1 point. In the competitions between the students of the secondary schools, baskets made from behind the three-point line are worth 2 points.
- A drawing assigns the first possession.
In any change of possession, the players have to “clear the ball” beyond the three-point line in order to start a new play.
- After a foul, the players are expected to put the ball in play from the boundary lines.
Each team has seven fouls to give: when the “penalty” is on, each foul is punished by a free throw.
- When a team makes a free-throw, the possession of the ball is given to the opponents; in case of an unsuccessful free-throw, the shooting team keeps the ball.
- When a player commits his fifth personal foul, he is out of the game.
- There is no referee on the court. The players are expected to call fouls by themselves and be absolutely honest and polite during the game.