Football, cricket and horse racing are sports that are often associated with the UAE. Other sports, on the other hand, have just thrived in their own niche.
That’s why every year, for a couple of months, Dubai Sports World does the fitness community a favour by housing an array of disciplines under one roof. Residents need only to look over their shoulders to find a new sport they can try.
And with its dozens of teams in uniforms and multiple courts, there’s one sport that’s impossible to miss when inside Dubai Sports World — basketball.
One institute is positioning itself at the forefront of basketball promotion. The Prestige Star Sport Academy (PSSA), a Dubai-based basketball academy, is offering coaching services and training to young athletes in Dubai Sports World, among other venues.
“Basketball is the second biggest sport in the world and we wanted to give the sporting talent of the Middle East a place where they could learn more about and play more of this wonderful sport,” says Dejan Kamenjasevic, Senior Project Executive, PSSA. “The academy’s mission is to raise awareness and instil a love and passion in the UAE and beyond, for the character-building sport that is basketball. We are new and fresh in the sports market and extremely focused on the kids and their development, health and happiness.”
Indeed, the growth of basketball in the region is something that’s long overdue and those interested now have one more prominent go-to outlet.
Minjae Kang, a PSSA member, says joining the academy “helps me keep fit and healthy and also gives me the opportunity to continually learn and get better in the sport that I love. Basketball is one of the biggest sports in the world so it is great that we have an academy like PSSA in Dubai, but with links all over the world because you never know where sport can take you in the future.”
PSSA is made up of Federation Internationale de Basketball (FIBA) certified coaches, ex-professional players, basketball specialists and professionals who harness talent and help members achieve goals in the sport of basketball. The academy also works toward developing healthier and cooperative communities through the sport.
PSSA already conducts training in over 30 locations in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, in gyms, clubs, schools and universities, and holding sessions inside Dubai Sports World further strengthens their overall presence.
“We’ve been operating in the UAE for just over a year now and the impact it has had has been phenomenal. We have nearly 400 members playing in our leagues, international games and tournaments. We have a court at this year’s Dubai Sports World and have been scouting to take a team to play in Las Vegas, which is the first time for this to happen in the UAE. We’re giving people the opportunity to develop sporting and social skills through basketball and we’re also opening up opportunities around the world for our members.” Kamenjasevic says.
Worldwide interaction is crucial and should be leveraged. It adds value to the local brand and its talents even if only by mere participation. When asked about the forthcoming international exposure, Kang said: “We have been training and preparing for the competition in Las Vegas, where we’ll be playing against the best teams in the world... I train three to six times a week with PSSA. They taught me that hard work and consistency are the most important factors when it comes to getting better at basketball. PSSA has the best coaches and I am learning so much from them each week, especially in the run-up to our trip to Las Vegas... the academy is helping me reach my potential in basketball and to learn as many new skills in the sport as I possibly can.”
It will take time and a whole lot of effort for basketball to climb the ranks and get to where football and cricket are in the UAE, but with PSSA nurturing young athletes, the sport’s future looks like a 3-point game-winner.
Entry to Dubai Sports World is free. But access to some of the courts may be chargeable.