Heading into this month, there was growing concern over basketball’s present standing in the Cayman Islands.
The national women’s league and the top flight of the national men’s league had low participation levels and Cayman did not send a team to the 2013 NatWest Island Games in Bermuda. However, in recent weeks, youth basketball camps have had strong turnouts.
The latest example was a free summer camp put on by the Department of Sports, Young Men’s Christian Association Cayman chapter and the Cayman Islands Basketball Association that featured some 150 children, instead of the 80 kids the groups had expected. For Director of Sports Collin Anglin, basketball has not lost its appeal, especially among Cayman’s younger generation.
“It shows interest in the sport because the kids were extremely eager to come and take part,” Anglin said. “They had a lot of fun and got coaching from Caymanian college basketball players as well, guys at the next stage of their careers.
“There is no lack of interest in the sport. Initially, basketball had planned on attending the Island Games and the national team was training. Personally, I had been doing practice sessions with the team and had planned on going on the trip. We got notified that the majority of teams pulled out, it was not even four teams left, so the decision was made to not spend all of the money to send a team.”
The sports department, YMCA and basketball association camp took place at Camana Bay’s Arts and Recreation Centre. The sessions catered to children ages 6-17 and attracted several notable talents like Justin Collins, Juawon Ebanks and Daniel Cridland, who is now pursuing basketball at Capistrano Valley Christian School in California.
Last week’s offering was the latest joint initiative between the sports department and YMCA, with the groups staging summer camps for other disciplines like football and swimming.
Anglin said the involvement of a community group was crucial.
“The YMCA is always a strong advocate for youth development, social responsibility and healthy living.
They saw that there was a need for funding to make the camps happen and they were eager to get on board to make that happen this summer. We did two swimming camps, a netball camp with the Cayman Islands Netball Association and two football camps in West Bay and Bodden Town. In all, over 500 kids came through these YMCA camps.”
It has not been all negative for basketball’s senior programme. Jerome Narcisse recently turned semi-pro and will play in Middlesborough, England this year alongside Jorge “Steamy” Ebanks. Most members of the national women’s champions, Welly’s Cool Spot, spent their summer attending camps in Florida and looking to attend school in the US.
Nevertheless, Anglin admits basketball’s structure for adult players could be changed. “The national programme needs to be revisited, in terms of what tournaments teams attend in a given year. We need to step up the frequency of basketball a lot in the summer but I’m confident that will happen in the future.
I’m confident because of the current leadership in place and we’re uncovering more and more talent coming up, which will ensure we have a strong national team.
“It’s important to give our teams more exposure coming up. Whether or not it’s an invitational tournament, it’s something that has to happen.”