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CBA targets 200,000 participants with new grassroots competition

The Chinese Basketball Association is launching a new national grassroots competition, the China Basketball Open.

The inaugural edition starts on October 15 and will involve an estimated 200,000 athletes and coaches, with men’s and women’s teams from 32 cities in 16 provinces. It is part of the CBA’s strategy to promote the development of the game at a grassroots level.

The competition will be jointly run by the CBA and municipal and provincial basketball associations.

Launching the competition yesterday, CBA chairman Yao Ming was reported by China Daily as saying the association wants it to be a platform for Chinese basketball to rebuild its relationship with fans, following the disappointment of the national team’s early exit from this month’s World Cup.

“We believe that with the help of municipal and provincial basketball associations, the China Basketball Open will expand to include the whole of China within the next few years,” he said. “This will provide a platform to build interest and develop a platform of support with hundreds of millions of basketball fans nationwide.”

The national team’s dismal performance and early elimination at the 2019 Fiba World Cup was particularly galling because it was in front of a home crowd. The result leaves China with little chance to qualify for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

For the China Basketball Open, the CBA will run the overall marketing and branding, while municipal and provincial basketball associations will handle tournament rules and regulations, hiring of management personnel, and venue organisation. Plans are also in the works to attract sponsors for the competition and participating teams.

The competition starts with three rounds of qualifiers at city level. This is followed by Northern and Southern regional competitions, similar to the NBA’s Eastern and Western Conference playoffs. The culmination is a championship final between the winners from each region.

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