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Luca (center) in his element; on the court. (Photos courtesy of Luca Perna)

Roslyn Representing USA In United World Games

Rising basketball and academic star, Luca Perna, a student at Roslyn Middle School, has been chosen to represent the United States at the prestigious United World Games in Klagenfurt, Austria, this summer. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity places Perna on the international stage, showcasing not only his exceptional athletic talent but also his dedication to academics and leadership.

Perna recalled the Knicks game he watched with his dad, which inspired him to get into the sport. “It looked really cool, and I wanted to try it.”

Luca Perna, from Roslyn, will be representing the USA in this year’s United World Games.

It was Perna’s participation with the not-for-profit NY-based team, the Hawks, which helped launch him fully into the world of basketball. The Hawks, whom Perna has played with since the age of six, won the AAU World Championships in Orlando this past summer.

Perna earned his selection through Student Athlete World (SAWUSA), impressing with his skill on the court, academic achievements, and strong leadership qualities. The application process was intense. Perna said the multi-month process involved sending in general information forms, as well as videos of him playing and several letters of recommendation. These included two from his coach, and even a letter from former NBA player Craig Elliott “Speedy” Claxton. Perna also had to interview with SAWUSA, delving into his goals, values and dreams for the future of the sport.

When he got the call that he was selected, Perna was jumping up and down with excitement. “This selection is an incredible honor,” Perna shared. “I’ve dedicated myself to this dream for years, and the chance to compete against some of the world’s best players is truly humbling. I’m excited to represent Long Island and the United States on this international stage.

“I have been training 12+ hours per week for the past 5 years to achieve this,” he continued. “While most of my friends were having play dates, I was training, traveling and catching up on academics.”

The United World Games, held at the Open-Air Basketball Arena from June 19 to 23, 2024, brings together talented student-athletes from across the globe, fostering cultural exchange, sportsmanship, and personal growth through friendly competition. Luca will be playing against other nations on a U14 team, different from his usual plays against U12 teams. Perna explained that these players will be much bigger, stronger and faster than he is — “But none of them have the heart that I do,” he promised. For Perna, his drive and dedication are the strongest qualities he possesses, and while he could be intimidated about going up against more experienced players, he’s not nervous at all, just excited to get out there.

Beyond the thrill of competition, the trip offers valuable cultural experiences and leadership development opportunities, allowing Perna to connect with young athletes from diverse backgrounds, further enriching his personal journey. Aside from the tournament, he will also be able to tour the country with his group to learn about some historical events in Austria.
Representing the US at the United World Games is a huge milestone, but certainly not the final frontier for Perna, who hopes to play for the pros some day. “I want to take it as far as I can.”

The secret to his success? Train like tomorrow is the biggest game of your life.

More Than A Tournament
The United World Games are more than a tournament. The Games are counted among Europe’s finest and most popular youth sports events, attracting thousands of young people from all across the globe year after year. In 2004, a team of young and sports enthusiastic people decided to take a rather small regional sports event, which was primarily designed for Austrians, to a whole new international level. It took an entire year to prepare and organize this international event and even more time was spent on the phone just to call and invite teams from all over Europe. The concept of Youth Games with an Olympic atmosphere and a strong focus on fun and personal inter-cultural encounters even off the fields, seemed to appeal to everyone right away. The first edition of the UWG in 2005 brought together 500 athletes from 12 different nations in Klagenfurt right away. Four wonderful days were spent and the citizens of Klagenfurt just couldn’t believe their eyes when the city centre was transformed into a big open-air disco by a crowd of happy and smiling athletes. All participants agreed: It had been a successful festival with a lot of new friends, which should not be missed in the years to come. Over the years, the United World Games have transcended the event and turned into a global movement and community on top of it. UWG is emblematic for the many positive values and dimensions attached to sport: respect, fair play, responsibility, cooperation, teamwork, exchange and friendship, exercise and health.

For more information on Student Athlete World, please visit www.STUDENTathleteWorld.com
For more information on the United World Games, please visit https://unitedworldgames.com/

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