The Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County has plans for an attractive basketball program this season.

Mandrell Howell, who doubles as the unit and athletic director, has been over the tournament the past two years and seen a improvement in the basketball program. The program is now accepting applications until Nov. 27. 

"Attendance was up last year from the year before," Howell said. "This year, we’re hoping to have a representative from all of the schools. We help the children get that real basketball experience, and we play by the real rules. We try to give them more opportunities to develop and the basic fundamentals to be successful."

The league’s regular season is scheduled to start Jan. 11, after the students return back to school from Christmas break. According to Howell, the program has reached out to every school in Faulkner County, including St. Joseph, Conway Christian, Greenbrier and Vilonia.

"All of the school administrators seemed to be very receptive," Howell said. "They were nice to us during the visits."

Despite having many other options for youth to participate in basketball programs around the county, the Boys and Girls Club of Faulkner County has had an increase in participation in recent years.

"Upward is a great program and we’re not discouraging anybody from signing up with Upward," Howell said. "Upward is a program more for beginners and to learn more about the Lord. What we offer is a more developed program in terms of skills and competition." 

There will be games on Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday nights. The league is for kids in the first through fourth grades. The season also lasts roughly two months, ending in March. Howell said the program’s postseason tournament will end about the same time NCAA’s March Madness begins. Last season, Bobby French, the president of the club’s Board of Directors, purchased traveling championship trophies.

"Everything went really smooth last year, and we didn’t have any complaints," Howell said. "We try to keep it down to 10 kids per team, so everybody gets a chance to play. It’s mandatory that each player plays at least one quarter in the first half. In the second half, the coaches (can) substitute freely."

Howell said the club is still looking for coaching volunteers. To volunteer, anyone can stop by at one of the local units.

"We do a background check on all of our coaching volunteers just like we do with the volunteers who work in the unit," Howell said. "Before the season, we go over what we want the coaches to implement in their practices.