DALLAS – It’s officially “Her Time To Play.”

The NBA and WNBA recently launched a new grassroots initiative called “Her Time to Play” to inspire the next generation of girls to learn and play basketball in a positive and healthy environment while gaining important skills such as how to be a teammate, leadership and self-confidence.

The Dallas Mavericks proudly joined the other 30 NBA teams in the league to announce its support of the new campaign, a program that encourages young girls to hoop and also increases opportunities for women in coaching and athletic leadership. “Her Time To Play” hits close to home as the Mavs are among just two current teams in the NBA with a female CEO (Cynt Marshall) and female assistant coach (Jenny Boucek).

Jr. NBA Week recently celebrated its fourth anniversary and Dallas Mavs veterans, Dorian Finney-Smith and Dennis Smith Jr., along with Marshall, participated in a Jr. NBA Clinic for dozens of North Texas children after a recent home game. They also showed their solidarity and commitment to “Her Time To Play” by meeting and spending time with young girls after the event, posing for photos and shooting a “Her Time To Play” video with the youth.

Dallas Mavericks senior director of community relations, Katie Edwards, also said the Mavs will host an all-girls basketball clinic later this year.

Neelah Garcia, 9, was among the children at this year’s Dallas Mavericks Jr. NBA Week Clinic. She said basketball is her favorite sport and she would love to see more girls play.

“I think girls are just as good as the boys,” Garcia said. “If they can dream it and believe it…they can achieve it. Today we got to meet the Dallas Mavericks players and they were really tall. But they told us we can do anything we want, and I believe it. We also got to go to the game and the Mavs gave us t-shirts and let us come down here on the basketball court and run and shoot. It was a special day. I really loved it.”

According to the Women’s Sports Foundation, participation in sports positively impacts the health and wellbeing of youth, but twice as many girls quit sports by the age of 14.

This is why the Jr. NBA stepped in and provided a free “Her Time To Play” curriculum online, created in partnership with the Women’s Sports Foundation, which pairs on-court training with off-court life skills lessons to build girls’ confidence, prepare them for the challenges of adolescence and teach values like teamwork. Each chapter highlights personal life experiences and stories shared by professional basketball players.

“Her Time To Play” is a collaboration with the NBA, WNBA, USA Basketball, YMCA of the USA, the Women’s Basketball Coaches Association, Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Women’s Sports Foundation.

The Jr. NBA is the official youth basketball development platform of the NBA, the WNBA and the G League. It was relaunched in 2015 with a focus on increasing participation and making sure kids have an opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the game as well as core values and life skills.

The Dallas Mavericks are proud supporters of the Jr. NBA and “Her Time To Play.”

Garcia said she is, too.

“I am going to do more pushups and get a lot stronger and work hard, so that my shot goes further as I grow. I believe I will get better with lots of practice. Basketball is so much fun and maybe one day I can play for the Dallas Mavericks.”

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