Basketball has seen the return of young girls to the court.
The national U19 girls basketball league is currently in its fourth week of competition.
Games are played every Saturday at 6pm and 7:45pm at the Cox Court on Eastern Avenue.
Games began on 27 September and are slated to continue until 22 November.
The league has four teams in the Sparks, Comets, Lynx and Monarchs.
League Organizer Redver Ebanks says this year’s league has plenty of young talent to watch for.
‘There are a lot of newcomers this year. They’re very young but they can be up to the standard of girls older than them.
‘Some of the players expected to do well are: Felecia Connor of the Comets as she is a very good perimeter shooter; Courtisha Ebanks of the Sparks; April Ebanks and Christina McLean of the Monarchs and Leanna Jarvis who is centre for the Lynx.’
Ebanks also says that at this point the league favourite is anyone’s guess.
‘The team that commits, practices, plays together and builds cohesiveness will be the team to beat.’
The league has a number of girls coming back to play this year. Among them is Melissa Smith.
Melissa is daughter of Sharon Smith and is playing for the Monarchs this year just as she did last year.
Smith says she enjoys herself on the court.
‘Ever since high school I’ve been in the league. I feel enthusiastic about it because it’s fun and makes me look forward to the weekend to play games.’
Some 40 kids are involved in the league with about 10 players per team.
This year marks the second straight year the league has had four teams.
Meanwhile the boys league that targets the same age group has increased this year from five to six teams.
For Ebanks that is a cause for concern.
‘One of the hardest things to accept with the league is that girls’ numbers didn’t grow while the boys did.’
Ebanks says the explanation for that fact is two-fold and is both positive and negative.
‘The positive reasons centre on a lot of players going to college. We have plenty of girls in schools abroad such as Brianna Ebanks on a PWC scholarship at the University of Tampa and Cassian Lawrence on a basketball scholarship at Kings College in Tennessee.
‘The fact that they’re 17 and going to college puts a lot of pressure on them to do well in school. As a result they put basketball on the backburner.’
In regards to the negatives Ebanks says much of it centres on the general lack of parents making an effort to get their daughters out to the games.
‘The negative reasons centre on a lack of commitment from some parents. The girls can’t and won’t come out if the parents will not take them.’
Ebanks was quick to say that there are many parents, especially mothers, in the league doing a good job with their daughters.
Among the names he mentioned were Marcia Connor, Primrose Moore and Dana McLean.
Going forward Ebanks would like to set up an additional girls league that would target girls coming out of primary school.
Ebanks says in this way the sport can remain in the minds of young girls until they’re old enough to decide what sport they prefer.
‘I have the idea to add another age group in the league. I see a big gap between girls primary school age and those under 16.
‘I’d like to introduce another category called the U14 league. I’m hoping to have tournaments for every age group until they’re adults. I want to help make sure the kids in primary school form a base in the sport and don’t fade away.’