Cayman will host what’s being touted as a ‘sports festival’ this July, when basketball teams and boxers from Port Arthur, Texas, come here to face off against some of the territory’s best young athletes.
Bermuda and Trinidad will also bring basketball teams for the event from 18-20 July, but those jurisdictions will not bring boxers.
Wanda Bodden, a Port Arthur pastor who is bringing teams from there, is calling the event the ‘Bringing Back the Glory’ tournament. She said she started the event in 2016 after seeing the need to get kids off the streets in her town.
Bodden said this event has been organised because of her city’s close relationship with the Cayman Islands. The two jurisdictions were dubbed sisters in the 1980s because so many Caymanians – especially seamen – had migrated to Port Arthur.
“The Cayman Islands is my sister city,” Bodden said.
Once teams from Trinidad and Bermuda heard about the event, they were on board, too, she said.
Cayman Islands Basketball Association technical director Victor ‘Coach Voot’ O’Garro said Bermuda’s team will be an all-star squad featuring the territory’s best players, while the team from Trinidad will be from an academy there.
Cayman’s team will also be an all-star team, featuring multiple athletes who are playing for schools in the US, O’Garro said. Those players include young stars such as Kai Robinson, Joshua O’Garro and Tyler Ebanks.
For other players in Cayman, the upcoming tournament will be a good chance for them to play against overseas talent, O’Garro said.
The same will be the case for Cayman’s boxers, the vast majority of whom will make their amateur debuts, in a variety of age and weight classes.
Cayman Islands Boxing Association national coach Floyd Trumpet said actually preparing for a real fight will be a valuable experience for his athletes.
“This tournament will be a good way to increase their experience,” he said. “Actual boxing training – preparing for a competition – is different than just coming to the gym.”
One of Cayman’s most exciting up-and-coming boxers, Brandy ‘Bee’ Barnes, will likely not compete in the tournament according to Cayman Islands Boxing Association President Leyla Jackson. Jackson said nothing is on Barnes’ schedule other than a possible tournament in Trinidad next month.
Sports Department director Collin Anglin said the event should cost about $15,000 to $20,000 to hold on Cayman’s side. Most of that will be paid for by local fundraising events.
Other teams are covering their expenses to get here, but Cayman will help them with costs for meals and transportation once here, Anglin said. Additionally, discounted rates have been negotiated with hotels, he said.
“Government, at this point, has not confirmed an exact amount,” Anglin said in response to a question on how much government is spending. “But I can say – because I’m also on the local organising committee – that a lot of the support from private sector has already been confirmed.”
Bodden said this will not be a one-off event, and that she is planning to hold the tournament for at least five years.
“We’re going to be here first, and you will come to Port Arthur and back and forth and back and forth,” she said.
Future sports festivals may feature more sports than just basketball and boxing, she said.