Cayman Islands strive to raise their level
GEORGE TOWN — Focused on the philosophy of long-term athlete development, ACX Basketball, along the Cayman Islands Basketball Association (CIBA) organized this week a training camp for their young talent with one of the main resources in the region.
Sefu Bernard, development director of the WNBA’s Washington Mystics, alongside CIBA technical director Victor O’Garro, designed a hands-on experience to provide the basketball tools and techniques to around 50 participants.
Coach Mike Mackay, the high-performance division manager of Canada Basketball with more than 30 years of experience, oversaw the activities. The workshops were offered free of charge in the facilities of John Gray High School and lasted for two hours. They were directed at players (girls and boys), coaches, teachers, parents and administrators.
“If you try to pick who will be the 12 best players when they are 7-8 years old, they’ll never make it through the system,” said Mackay in a TV interview. If you pick all the kids on the island who are actively engaged, and can find them a role, and they enjoy it, you have an opportunity to find players who will stay with sport for life. Even if they don’t, they’ll encourage their children to play. They become the referees, coaches, the passionate fans of the game. That’s how you build the culture of the sport.”
“There were tons of kids, with their button-up shirts and pants, and they are all crowded around the hoop playing basketball,” said Mackay. “The passion for the game is here, and I hope I can spark a few coaches to try something different to spark something else.”
Mackay arrived at the Cayman Islands after leading several coaches’ workshops in London, organized by the program NBA Global Games.
The Cayman Islands are also celebrating the recent success of one of their program’s best representatives — Jorge Ebanks. As the only player from Cayman heritage who participates as a professional in Europe, Banks was a key piece of the National Team during the 2015 CBC Championship, when he contributed 23 points per game.
Cayman Islands and their national team are getting ready to participate at the XVII Island Games that will take place in Gibraltar, starting July 6.
Another one of the most important initiatives for the development of basketball in the islands has been the Cayman Islands Classic. This is a first-division NCAA college tournament that includes eight of the best teams in the nation and promotes the country as a tourist and sports destination. In its second edition in 2018, the University of Creighton defeated Clemson in the final.
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