The three year sponsorship was launched at DFO South Wharf in Melbourne on Wednesday 25 November by Australian and Olympic basketball stars Lauren Jackson and Andrew Gaze.
Angus McNaughton, Managing Director and CEO of Vicinity Centres, said: “Sponsoring junior basketball is an outstanding opportunity to connect our shopping centres, customers and retail partners with the communities in which they operate.”
“Enriching community experiences is at the forefront of our business and the partnership with Aussie Hoops demonstrates our commitment,” he said.
More than 20,000 children aged five to 10 have participated in the Aussie Hoops program since it was re-launched in July 2014. With the support of Vicinity Centres, Basketball Australia anticipates this will grow to 60,000 children next year.
Basketball Australia CEO Anthony Moore said the partnership with Vicinity Centres would play a crucial role in boosting national awareness of Aussie Hoops.
“The Aussie Hoops program will ensure children of all ages and abilities have a great first basketball experience. They’ll learn about the importance of teamwork, fair play and staying healthy. We’re about creating a network of strong clubs and associations that are committed to building the best introductory sports program in the country,” Mr Moore said.
Basketball is the second highest participation sport in Australia with more than 1.2 million people of all ages and genders playing the game each year.
There are currently 231 Aussie Hoops centres around the country. The majority of these sporting hubs are within a 15-minute drive of one of 93 Vicinity Centres across Australia.
As part of the sponsorship deal, “Super Hooper” inflatable basketball stations will be installed in shopping centres around the country throughout 2016, giving children the chance to test their basketball skills in a fun environment. Parents will also be able to register their children in their local Aussie Hoops program.
Basketball Australia board member Andrew Gaze said junior development programs like Aussie Hoops played a vital role in ensuring the future of the sport at an elite level in Australia.
“Encouraging participation in sport from a young age helps children develop the physical and mental skills needed for success at a professional level.
"Programs like Aussie Hoops, which operate within community centres and schools, offer kids who may not otherwise have considered basketball with an opportunity to develop a passion for the game,” Mr Gaze said.