The vast range of sports with world-class facilities available to Cayman residents is appreciated by many but taken up by few, especially women.
Not so for Bobeth O’Garro, whose life outside of her working hours is immersed in sport. The fact that husband Dwight is a top basketball player and her father-in-law Victor “Voot” O’Garro is the basketball technical director, means it is relatively easy for O’Garro to enjoy sport here. Their two sons are multi-sport aces too.
O’Garro was featured in the Cayman Compass as one of the top 10 fittest athletes in Cayman. She is involved in flag football, touch rugby and Gaelic football.
“I play all of them for the exercise as I hate working out at the gym – and for the social interaction,” she said.
She also officiates in track and field, football and basketball. Volleyball and badminton have also seen O’Garro’s involvement.
Football was her favorite sport when she played, but over the past four years the Gaelic code has taken over her preference.
“I like the physicality and speed of Gaelic and enjoy the atmosphere and the people involved with the sport as well. You play hard on the field and when the game is over, you have a good time socializing. No drama.”
O’Garro used to play many more sports, but “only” three now is not a stretch for her.
“I play so many because I love to keep fit and I enjoy competition. It keeps me occupied and it’s a stress reliever. They allow me to still be competitive without having to work too hard.” Each sport is at a different location and the diversity of people makes it interesting.
“I like the variety and the different dynamics of each sport. What is required of each sport is similar yet very different.”
A high achiever in every sport she has played seriously, O’Garro has played on national teams and at club level.
“Although I have won quite a few accolades as a player, I think my sporting highlight has not really been as a player but as an official,” she said.
She is the first International Basketball Federation (FIBA) female referee in Cayman and was the first FIBA official from Cayman to be called to work a world championship, although due to a knee surgery she had to decline.
“As an official, I have been able to give back to the sport, to the community and to help the various sports grow.
“I’ve also been given the opportunity to demonstrate that Cayman can produce top female officials.”
O’Garro is also a FIFA referee and a qualified official and hopes to get a chance to be a referee at a major tournament.
Tennis is another attraction, although she has never played it seriously.
O’Garro’s love of sport was sparked as a child by her father.
“He used to be a part-time sportswriter in Cayman and I went everywhere with him. When they realized that I had athletic talent, both my parents supported me in all my sports.
“There was never an event that they did not attend. They supported me as an athlete while insisting that I kept up my grades.”
She did track and field from ages 9 to 16. “I was good, but poor coaching attitude caused me and a few others to leave the sport. I stick to officiating the sport nowadays.”
She played on the national Under-16 netball team from ages 12-15 and won a few senior championships with different teams, and more recently with Storms Quick Cash. She was also a defensive player of the year a few times.
O’Garro also played on the national football team for seven years until age 25.
“I won a few women’s titles with various clubs and my favorite team was Yobo Football Club. It was like family in the ‘90s.”
Football and basketball were given up in her mid-30s, partly to give back as an official and coach. Casual pick-up games are her only participation now.
“A woman does not tell her age, but I am very close to 40,” she said.
The Jamaica-born Commandant of the Cayman Islands Cadet Corps has lived here so long she considers herself Caymanian now. “I don’t know another place as home.”
She claims to have no sporting heroes. “I just admire all great athletes in various sports who work hard to achieve their dreams.”
The main improvement in the Cayman sporting scene she would like to see is for associations to organize their seasons better so that they do not clash so much.
“This would allow more people to be consistent in committing and … it may allow the fans to turn out to support more.”
She would like to see fairer backing for teams representing Cayman internationally. “There are a few sports who seem to get all the local sponsorship, yet they do little for the Caymanians,” O’Garro said. “It is also the same companies that sponsor all the time. Others need to step up. I think we should create a sporting fund that is used to sponsor national teams.”
She added, “I would recommend that everyone gets active and that parents get their daughters, especially, involved in sports as it is a proven fact that girls who are involved in sports have better self-esteem, self-respect and generally abstain from sexual activities at an early age.”