Valentina Bashkirova is Vice President of the Russian Basketball Federation and President of the “TRINTA” Sports School.
Basketball was so popular in Russian in the 1990s that many big tournaments were created.
Mini-basketball became extremely popular as well and we asked ourselves: why not show the strengths and beauty of mini-basketball in a big event?
Organizing large sports competitions brings up many important questions.
What do spectators really want to see?
Who is going to participate?
Will it be fun for the children?
What kind of awards should be given?
How do you organize a tournament in such a way as to make children leave the arena with smiles on their faces and presents in their hands?
The decision was finally made to invite 10-year-old boys to our event. However, as the popularity of the event spread, we recently began inviting talented girls from the Moscow region to participate as well.
In the past eight-year history of our event, the number of participants has varied between 300 to 350 children.
Children are not the only ones we want to attract to our event. Our outreach extends to parents, too. Each child is invited to attend with his or her mother and father, or some other close relative. The parents get real satisfaction seeing their children play basketball and many become not only volunteers at the event but basketball devotees as well.
We pay close attention to the event, with the goal of making it something remarkable and nice.
Even before a child enters the sports school, everything is geared to immediately capture their imagination.
Colorful balloons, photographs from previous events, sports posters, advertising, and the oversized logos of our sponsors are all used to make our event special.
An art competition is also organized each year, with teachers from the Trinta Sports School acting as judges to choose the best drawing in the “We Paint Basketball” competition.
After a few years, it became evident that two days was simply not enough time to carry out the event, and we have since turned it into the “Moscow mini-basketball week.” During the weekdays, the children compete in different gymnastics events, each which has a basketball element. They also take part in exercises involving speed, testing their coordination and balance, as well as their ability to jump.
All these mini-competitions are scored, and each child’s results are computed into an overall performance score. Our girls have their own separate program that is similar to the boys.
With all of these games concluded, we have what we call a Day of Finals, and it takes place on the weekend. Preparation is the key to making this a special and fun day. We do this by holding a general coaches’ meeting at which we hand out our program and then discuss it in detail, going over all the organizational aspects.
Dressing rooms are assigned, parade behavior is discussed, seating in the arena is determined, and the awards ceremony is described. We also address any other issues coaches may have concerns about.
In previous years, we have invited non-sports groups to participate.
These have included girls drumming groups, military and high school bands, and the Red Army basketball club.
This year, we had the pleasure of listening to a magnificent performance of the Moscow Region Military Commanding Office Orchestra. Another new addition to the ceremony was folk dancing, with the children and their parents participating as teams in a friendly competition.
We start the Finals, as we always have, with all the participants singing the hymn of Moscow mini-basketball, which contains this exquisite line of beauty and power: “Now we play mini, tomorrow we play grand.” By the way, this prophetic line has already been confirmed, for our participants in the past have included Marina Kuzina, Elena Migunova, Alena Danilotchkina, and Elena Evseeva. These young athletes eventually went on to win the European Junior Women’s basketball championship.
The awards ceremony is supported with the help of corporate sponsors, charitable foundations, and individual sponsors. Two years ago, our finals were included in the budget of the Moscow Sports Committee, so we had sound financial backing. Over the years, our commercial sponsors have included McDonald’s, Adidas, Delta Sport, the Nike in Russian distributor, to name a few of the well-known ones.
A principle of our event that we take great pains to adhere to is: We have no losers, only winners.
Oversized plush animal toys are given to all teams and individual prizes are awarded to winners of the physical skills competitions. Each participant is presented with an individual gift package comprised of sportswear;a copy of “Basketball Planet,” the Russian Basketball Federation magazine; candy; a calendar; pens; and plenty of other little things children are so fond of.
Press coverage matters, of course. Newspapers stories are widespread, with many TV segments and newspaper and magazine articles devoted to the event.
One journalist wrote-and we fully agree with him-that children in sport are “..painters of a great picture they have now just started to paint.
The first lines and curves have been drawn and the first colors combined.
They play basketball and they enjoy playing. These memories can truly make one’s soul so happy!”