In a move to solidify their mission to propel the image of females athletes, Nike has chosen provide the VK Basketball Club of the Greater Vancouver Area with substantial clothing sponsorship. The deal will outfit their elite teams with jerseys, shoes, warm up shirts, and other apparel.
VK Basketball — a non-profit club committed to providing an extensive basketball experience to elite female athletes — is honoured that Nike recognized their goals and missions as being similar to those of the major athletic brand. Nike, whose legacy is built on campaigns, product innovation, athlete and team partnerships, appreciates VK’s effort to alleviate the high costs of summer basketball and provide a program that allows athletes to pay what they can afford.
For Nike, being involved with a club program with this model shows their continued support for the evolution and expansion of amateur athletics as well as supporting the increased profile of young woman in sport. For VK basketball, the benefits are obvious. “We believe our program (being a non-profit one) is of the highest quality, so teaming up with the premiere brand in sports and fitness was a natural fit and an incredible honour,” said VK founder Anthony Beyrouti.
“When you think excellence in basketball, Nike immediately comes to mind. We want to build a program with the same reputation.”
And this message has reached the athletes as well. “Last year we had nice uniforms, but they weren’t like these,” said point guard Nikki Cabuco about their new Nike uniforms. “When put on the Nike Swoosh, you feel like you have a responsibility to be good!”
While the uniforms not only raise the expectations and increase the profile of the program, VK CEO Winston Brown see another benefit. “As a non-profit working to offer a competitive travel schedule at a fraction of the cost of other programs, Nike’s support is immeasurable” he explained. Each athlete in the program receives home and away jerseys, practice jerseys, warm-up hoodies, a basketball bag, shoes, and socks. “When I first joined the program I thought we would be wearing reversible practice jerseys with numbers taped on,” claimed forward Jessica Parker. “I was so shocked to receive our new gear that I immediately went home and took a ton of pictures.”
It is that sense of pride and excitement that the girls of VK Basketball will take with them to Arizona this week where they’ll play in the Phoenix Gauntlet tournament. The tournament is the first in a challenging schedule that will take the teams to high profile events in Portland, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Chicago. While challenging the athletes to compete in hostile American gymnasiums, the staff of VK is working to emulate Nike’s goal of evolving and “propelling” amateur sport with their bballnationals — a club championships where 96 boys and girls teams at the U17, U15, and U13 levels compete for a national title.
It was Nike’s “If you let me play” ad campaign directed at involving young women in sports that led VK Basketball coordinator, Paul Langford, to suggest the creation of this national event. “In our first year, it was solely girls because we were confident that girls teams and coaches would be eager to be a part of a high profile event” said Langford. The success of the inaugural event, that saw teams from as far as Moncton, New Brunswick travel to the Langley Event Centre (on Canada’s west coast), convinced the organizing committee to expand the tournament to include boys teams as well. “This is the perfect culmination for Canadian clubs who spend most of their summer competing against teams from south of the border,” says Beyrouti. “You get a chance to see how you stack up.”
Preparing these athletes to move on to play at the next level (whether it’s in Canada or the US) was the primary focus for Beyrouti when he founded the club. For him, the relationship with Nike has served as confirmation that the staff at VK Basketball has set quality goals and core values to follow. “Obviously we’re doing something right” he said. “Now we just need to make sure that we can do it again every year.”
Nike is about excellence, character, and opportunity. The VK Basketball club is honoured to be chosen to represent those values and continue the Nike legacy.
Written by: Chris Evans