#Global superstar LeBron James makes dreams come true for young Saudi players at basketball clinic during first visit to the country

LeBron James, one of the most iconic figures in world sport and NBA all-time leading scorer has made his first visit to Saudi Arabia, to play alongside young basketball players in a once-in-a-lifetime clinic featuring Saudi students and a number of emerging stars from the women’s national team.

Dr. Ghassan Tashkandi, President of the Saudi Basketball Federation, said: ‚ÄúWe are incredibly honored to welcome LeBron James to Riyadh today. Seeing the reactions and smiles on the faces of all the players was priceless. His passion for the game, and willingness to take time to train with our players is a massive boost for our sport in Saudi.‚ÄĚ

‚ÄúLeBron is a superstar, legend and hero all in one and someone who truly transcends sport worldwide. I‚Äôve no doubt his visit today will have created memories for a lifetime for so many Saudi boys and girls who just had their dreams come true. Sports stars are so powerful in helping us inspire, unite and excite future athletes in Saudi Arabia ‚Äď and they don‚Äôt get bigger than the all-time leading scorer of the NBA,‚ÄĚ Tashkandi added.

As part of his visit to the Kingdom, James led a special clinic organized by the Saudi Arabian Basketball Federation at Alazem Academy, in the country’s capital, Riyadh. The interactive training session saw participants share the court with one of basketball’s greatest ever players as they took on a series of dribbling and shooting knockouts.

Starting out his NBA career two decades ago, James has one of the most impressive league records, having won four championships, four MVP awards, four Finals MVP awards, two Olympic golds, and has been named an All-Star on a remarkable 19 occasions.

Aligned with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030, James’ visit underscores Saudi Arabia’s commitment to promoting healthier and more active lifestyles, as well as becoming a global destination for some of the biggest global events.

Included among the major events is the FIBA 3X3 World Tour, which has been hosted in the coastal city of Jeddah on two occasions and Diriyah last year.

The players struggled to find words to describe their feelings after meeting and playing basketball with their idol in their home country. ‚ÄúLeBron played an immense role in my life. I can’t even begin to explain how happy I am to be here. I’ve aspired to be like him every single day growing up,‚ÄĚ said 16-year-old Ibrahim Qattan.

Teammate Abdullah Basha expressed similar feelings, saying: “Growing up as a kid you just see him on TV or on your phone screen, so to see him here today doing his thing is just amazing. I thought I was dreaming and wanted someone to pinch me!”

Al Azem Academy player Aseel Falatah also added: “As women, we now have countless opportunities to play sport in the Kingdom. The experience today doesn’t even feel real. I honestly learned so much from him.”

Sports in Saudi Arabia are undergoing a massive transformation which has seen the number of sports federations increase by over 50% in four years, with the percentage of sports participation and physical activity amongst adults rising to 48% from just 13% in 2015%.

Basketball has particularly witnessed significant growth in the past years with participation in the Kingdom increasing 54% since 2018 thanks to a wide range of grassroots programs, while a total of 240 players also now make up the first generation of female basketball players.

The number of registered teams has also seen a huge uptick from 45 in 2018 to 105 teams in 2023, including 28 female teams. Six male and female national teams are also actively representing Saudi Arabia in regional and global tournaments today.

For more information on the Saudi Basketball Federation, please visit www.saudi.basketball.

- Advertisement -