Special Olympics programmes in the Caribbean had a memorable experience recently.
In an effort to promote team sports within the region and to provide competitions opportunities for its athletes, Special Olympics Bahamas hosted two successful events.
On December 3 and 4 a full Basketball Certification Course was conducted by Voot O’Garro, the highly qualified Cayman Islands coach and David Benjamin, who is the Regional Technical and Training Director of Special Olympics Caribbean.
Fifteen registered coaches were from the programmes of St. Kitts, Barbados, Trinidad & Tobago, Cayman Islands, Abaco, Grand Bahama and New Providence.
The course was intense; all agreed that it was a valuable experience and greatly enhanced their skills to train the athletes in their care.
Special Olympics requires that all coaches earn certification in their respective sports. Special Olympics Bahamas has committed to organizing coaches clinics for all of the sports offered.
Currently, training and competition is offered in aquatics, athletics, basketball, bocce, judo and tennis.
The highlight of the week was the two-day basketball tournament.
All were impressed with the quality of play by the athletes. The tournament was officially opened b Desmond Bannister, Minister of Sports, at a spirited Opening Ceremony, which featured the Stapledon School Dance Troupe.
After high level competition, in Division 1, gold went to Grand Bahama, silver to Barbados and bronze to Abaco.
Division 2 gold was won by New Providence A, silver by the Cayman Islands and bronze by New Providence B.
The games were officiated by the New Providence Association of Basketball Officials at the highest professional standard. They too commended the players for their skills and quality of play.
Special Olympics Bahamas provides year round training for its athletes in six sports and organizes competition in each sport throughout the year.
The Board of Directors want to extend invitations to the other Caribbean programmes to participate in all of these competitions, as many of them do not have sufficient competition opportunities for their athletes.
Likewise, local athletes will attend events throughout the region.
The next step for Bahamian athletes is the Gibson Relays in Jamaica in January.
Benjamin commended the Organizers for the hosting of this international event, and encouraged them to make this an annual celebration.