The NABI Foundation, known for organizing high profile sporting events for Native athletes, will host a record 128 teams (64 boys & 64 girls' teams) for their 11th Anniversary NABI Invitational taking place this July 17-21 in Phoenix.
For a decade the tournament has attracted teams representing tribes from all across the U.S., with teams from our Great White North neighbors joining in the last few years. But this year for the first time a Maori squad from New Zealand will represent their Indigenous People, with the hopes of bringing home the NABI Championship trophy Down Under.
"Coach Nardi Leonard is excited about bringing his [Maori] team to Phoenix and competing in our tournament. Having the Maori team come is going to be an honor and an experience not only for their team, but for all our youth. I guess NABI is now officially global!?" said GinaMarie Scarpa, NABI Foundation CEO, in a press release.
NABI, co-founded by Mark West of the Phoenix Suns, the late Scott Podleski and Scarpa started out as a small local tournament in 2003 and since has become a growing non-profit organizing one of the largest all Native youth hoops tournaments, bringing exposure to thousands of Native high school athletes from all over North America–and now the world.
Special guest at least year's classic: World champion powerlifter Brady Tanner, Cherokee, stopped by to meet the guys. Tanner was recently elected to the American Indian Athletic Hall of Fame.
Tex G. Hall,
former president of the National Congress of American Indians and chairman of MHA (Mandan, Hidatsa & Arikara) Nation says "NABI is the BEST all Native high school tournament! Anthony Brown, Cheyenne/Arapaho, a NABI alum went on to play for the CBA and in Spain; NABI alumnus Angel Goodrich
went on to play for Kansas; and with Shoni & Jude Schimmel being the first Native athletes to play in a NCAA national final, tournaments like NABI are needed to continue to showcase just how talented our youth are and how they are impacting playing in college and pro-sports."
According to the NABI Foundation, since its inception the NABI is directly responsible for encouraging the NCAA to change their "same state" rule to allow Native American tournaments to become sanctioned NCAA summer tournaments, thus allowing NABI to become the first all-Native tournament recognized by the NCAA. To date NABI has created more than 75 college athletic scholarship opportunities for student-athletes who participated in the tournament and has also awarded more than $100,000 in college scholarships to NABI alumni.
The Ak-Chin Indian Community, Nike N7 and Yavapai Prescott Indian Tribe will be the presenting sponsors of this prestigious tournament. Games will be played in ten Phoenix area gyms starting on Thursday, July 18, with the men's and women's championship games being played at U.S. Airways Center, Sunday, July 21.
Other sponsors of the invitiational include: Phoenix Suns, Phoenix Mercury, Arizona Diamondbacks, US Airways Center, National Center for American Indian Enterprise Development, National Indian Gaming Association and Bank of America.