Cayman’s national basketball coach is no stranger to the world of Special Olympics basketball.
Earlier this month Cayman National Coach Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro was in the Bahamas leading a two-day basketball certification course for persons looking to get certified to coach special needs children in basketball.
He also had a hand in organizing and preparing members of a basketball squad fielded by Special Olympics Cayman Islands for the Bahamas Special Olympics Basketball Games on 5-6 December.
Cayman were one of six teams that competed with the other teams representing Barbados and islands in the Bahamas.
The Cayman team, in its first ever basketball tournament, came away with a silver medal.
Though that brand of basketball may be new for Cayman it is old-hat for Voot, who first got involved with SO back in 1985.
Naturally Voot focused on the basketball side of things in his native Trinidad and Tobago.
Part of the reason for his involvement in that community comes from his commitment to developing young athletes and raw talent which he exhibits so clearly today.
Voot’s knack for coaching reaped dividends early. In 1987 he took a team to a silver medal finish at a SO meet in the United States.
From there Voot would focus on getting others knowledgeable about the sport. He would hold numerous SO coaching clinics in Trinidad, St. Lucia (1991) and Bahamas.
Along the way Voot would be called away from Trinidad and find his way to the friendly shores of Cayman in 1994.
Since then Voot, who has Caymanian status, has been playing a small role in the local SO scene. However he admits he has been working steadily to get the athletes in that community interested in basketball.
‘I have always taken the national U19 team to the First Baptist Church and put on basketball highlights and clinics with the Special Olympics athletes to encourage them to play.’
Prior to Voot’s coaching clinic this year his last one was in Bahamas in 1995.
Voot admits there was a bit of rust when he led the one this year though it was nothing a ‘refresher exercise’ could not correct.
The course would see representatives from islands in the Bahamas such as Freeport, Nassau and Abaco, Barbados, Trinidad and Tobago and Cayman (including Head Coach of the Cayman team Fareed Hosein).
In Voot’s eyes the course was a step towards exposing the Caribbean to the idea of basketball in SO.
‘I thought it was a successful coaching course. The things that were taught could help out with ‘normal’ basketball.
‘Basketball is just one of the disciplines in the Special Olympics and it is played by few countries. Like David Benjamin [Chief Director of Special Olympics in the Caribbean] I want to spread and develop Special Olympics in the Caribbean.’
Ultimately Voot feels committed to developing the youth of Cayman in the sport he loves, especially if they are athletes in the SO.
‘Fareed [and SOCI] is doing a fantastic job but because of my experience I’m extremely willing to assist in any way.’