Basketball tournament Photo: Adobe Stock Images

Harris County Commissioner Rodney Ellis and the Street Olympics Board of Directors on Thursday will tip off the 3-on-3 Basketball Championship Tournament that will feature about 200 boys and girls playing for awards.

The tournament, part of the nonprofit Street Olympics Summer Games, consists of Houston-area youth – ages 7 to 17 – playing on 50 teams in the single-elimination tournament at Fonde Recreation Center, which is operated by the Houston Parks and Recreation Department.

“This is not just about sports – it’s about instilling teamwork, leadership, and confidence,” Commissioner Ellis said. “Like life, basketball is a team sport. Those who do well in life will have strong leadership skills. They’ll play well on a team, and support the people around them while holding people accountable. And they will have the confidence to take risks, to push the status quo, and to accept and learn from their mistakes.”

In the past five weeks of preliminary rounds, more than 500 boys and girls at 45 neighborhood agencies participating in the free Summer Games have competed for the opportunity to display their skills and play for awards in the Championship Tournament. Regardless of whether players finish in first or second place, everyone will get something because the Houston Rockets, who supports the Street Olympics, will give free backpacks to all children.

The 3-on-3 Basketball is a major component of the Summer Games and one that brings youth together from across the Houston area to compete in a positive environment. Also, hundreds of Houston-area youth are competing in Summer Games activities that are being hosted at approximately 55 participating sites for an opportunity to attend the Final Event at NRG Arena on Friday, Aug. 5.

In addition to 3-on-3 Basketball, other Summer Games competitive activities include kickball, hopscotch, softball throw, Hula Hoop medley, jump rope and other so-called street games. The Final Event also hosts the Bright Futures Fair, which features interactive booths and hands-on activities that emphasize health, safety and environmental awareness.

Other Street Olympics summer programs include free Learn-to-Swim lessons provided to low-income youth at two sites operated by the Harris County Aquatics Program. Throughout the summer, youth also are attending two Discovery Camps at Deussen Park and El Franco Lee Park, both of which offer a one-day trip to teach children about nature and the environment.

“For many kids in Precinct One, organized enrichment activities are frequently financially out of reach,” Commissioner Ellis said. “And this in an important piece of our broader efforts to lift up our communities with investments in neighborhood infrastructure, public safety, and giving Black and Brown people access to economic opportunity.”