Amateur Athletic Union | Sports Destination Management

Amateur Athletic Union

An Interview with JB (Jo) Mirza, President
May 01, 2024 | By: Jo Mirza

The Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) is a multi-sport youth sports organization that, in addition to impressive membership numbers, has more than 100,000 volunteers.

Sports Destination Management: Is AAU’s membership growing?

JB (Jo) Mirza
JB (Jo) Mirza

JB (Jo) Mirza: I’m proud to say our membership numbers continue to increase each year. We’re approaching one million members across our 45+ sports programs, the highest member total in our 136-year history.

Beyond tournaments, AAU offers programming for education, athlete safety and underprivileged youth. We’re focused on creating partnerships and relationships with different sports organizations, government agencies and municipalities to bring sports and, with that, physical and mental health benefits, to all participants.

While the 7- to 10-year-old age group has grown the most in our membership in the past three years, one thing we’re cognizant of is the maturing population. Our motto is “Sports for All, Forever” which means we’re focused on providing participation opportunities for all age groups and all backgrounds.

We understand the unique role educational institutions as well as national governing bodies play in sports development. The AAU‘s mission is commitment to the overall development of athletes on and off the playing surface to create the next generation of collegiate, Olympic and professional athletes who compete on the national and global stage.

SDM: AAU recently moved its basketball tournaments to the ESPN Complex. Please tell us a little about that.

Mirza: We absolutely love Orlando. The AAU has had a most rewarding relationship with Walt Disney World and ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex for nearly 30 years. We were one of the anchor tenets of the facility, along with the Atlanta Braves, when it opened in 1997.

Disney is one of the most amazing companies in the world, and we’ve learned a lot from them. We are happy to now expand our relationship with Disney to include hosting all our AAU Boys’ Basketball World Championship age groups at ESPN Wide World of Sports. Just as we developed the world’s largest volleyball tournament, our goal is to develop the largest basketball event in the world in Orlando.


There’s no better place than Walt Disney World and Orlando for amateur athletes to feel like professionals and experience the magic of sports. Central Florida is a perfect combination of great weather, attractions and sports opportunities through the AAU. We look forward to continuing our strong, robust relationship with both Disney and Orlando far into the future.

SDM: Is there potential for more of AAU’s tournaments to move there?

Mirza: Absolutely! We’re constantly looking for new opportunities and projects with our partners. It’s my belief that creating and fostering partnerships and relationships is instrumental to our growth and it’s one of our key strengths.

SDM: The Junior National Volleyball Championships have become a bucket-list event for teams. What do you think are some of the essential ingredients for a positive tournament experience?

Mirza: We’re extremely proud of our events, particularly the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships. We believe the level of quality competition is only eclipsed by the welcoming environment created at our tournaments. We wouldn’t be able to create that positive experience without great partnerships. Congratulations must go not only to the AAU, but to Visit Orlando, Greater Orlando Sports Commission, Orange County Convention Center, and Orange County.

SDM: Does AAU have an RFP process for its sports?

Mirza: It depends on the sport, but most have a process in which future sites are evaluated and chosen. That process includes site visits, evaluation of surrounding hotels, local area things to do, and ease of travel to and from the location.

SDM: What does AAU look for in a host city?

Mirza: There are two main things we look for in a host city. One, that they have the infrastructure and facilities to host large events, and, most importantly, that the cities are welcoming and eager to be partners with us, not just landlords. Our best events come to fruition with true collaboration between us and the host city. SDM

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