Youth basketball is getting a boost from a newly formed programme.
This month saw the launch of the Cayman Islands Basketball Association Youth Basketball Academy. Aimed at the Under-15 age group, sessions have taken place Saturday mornings at the First Baptist Church hall.
Leading the youngsters has been Academy Director Victor ‘Voot’ O’Garro. The Technical Director for Cayman basketball states the programme is about developing talent and encouraging good habits.
“The purpose of the academy is to give young kids the chance to learn the game from an early age,” O’Garro said. “In the past that has not been done and in the later stages we in the association would have to unlearn bad habits. The academy is there to get rid of that.
“Through the academy we hope for the kids to fit into any programme much easier. After learning the basics here, it will be easier to progress or transition to another league.”
Most sessions have seen a good turnout of male and female players. Some kids, like noted junior angler John Sperandeo, are newcomers who have progressed immensely through the clinics. Other youngsters, like Hanna Parchment, are more established names who are embracing the drills as opportunities to fine-tune aspects like shooting and defence.
Many will be utilizing what they have learned in the ongoing Appleby Under-19 Basketball League. Taking place outdoors at the basketball association court, the competition has boys and girls divisions. O’Garro states out of all the kids he has worked with in the academy, he is most pleased with the oldest players.
“I’m very happy with the older age group. They’re ahead of the field with the game yet they are still interested in taking their games to a higher level. They know they will learn the game at a high level and understand what transpires.”
Last Saturday many of those older talents, like Justin Collins and La-Torae Nixon, got a lesson in defensive positioning. O’Garro spent his morning session with them focusing on how to identify an attacker’s strong side, interior defence and keeping active hands.
Helping O’Garro in the academy are some of the top coaches in the Cayman Islands. Among them are youth league legends Jonathan Powery and Wendy Manzanares along with two-time men’s league coach of the year Duran ‘Trini’ Whittaker. O’Garro states the academy is a chance for them to improve their knowledge of the sport.
“Some of the other coaches helping out are Eckerd McField and Billy Fenton. Why I selected them is because of their pedigree. They have basketball at heart. This part of the game, working with beginner players, is where they have to hone in on. They can pick it up and in turn enhance the coaching aspect of the sport.
“It should be noted that some of them are pursuing more training as coaches. Wendy went to Lamar University (in Texas) for two weeks to understudy the coaches there while Trini and Eckerd are about to do the same thing at Eckerd College (in Florida).”