Andrew Waterman, senior coach of the touring Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club, told Barbados TODAY he was very pleased with the standard of basketball he had seen displayed by young local basketballers.
Waterman, Barbadian-born but currently residing in Canada, said this was his team’s first time in Barbados and the Caribbean and even though a few other teams wanted the club to play in their island they thought Barbados was the ideal place to start.
“Just coming here once every two years and my mum and dad are here and coming here and playing ball every since I was a kid, it was a natural process to start with Barbados. I have a close relationship with Cosmo Edwards who works at the National Sports Council and it all came about by just sitting in the veranda and here we are,” Waterman said.
The coach mentioned the local basketball facilities which he said were good to play in, even though some renovations could be done. He added they had enjoyed playing at the Sir Garfield Sobers Sports Complex and he and the players were having a great time.
“I was able to come here and watch the last basketball league games and over the last Christmas holiday some volleyball games. So I observed the facility and it is a great facility which just needs to be upgraded and retrofitted a bit. There is only so much you can do on the outdoor facility, so I think the kids need that opportunity to play more indoor games and we have two good facilities like the gymnasium itself and the Barbados Community College which other countries in the Caribbean don’t have and if we put it together we should do well. All it takes is a little cooperation,” Waterman noted.
The team arrived last week Wednesday and is made up of all high school players ranging from ages 14 to 18. The coach said the tour was a show of appreciation to the youngsters for all the hard work they had put in over the past five years and an opportunity for others who were coming up to aspire to be better.
Waterman also pointed out that several players in the Phoenix Basketball Club had gained scholarships in Europe and the United States.
Captain of Ottawa Phoenix Basketball Club, Ismael Kaba, who plays small forward, said he was having a great tour and was enjoying playing against the local secondary schoolboys.
The 17-year-old who is a former student of Sir Roberts Borden High School in Canada will be attending Nipissing University and said it was nice to see the difference in culture and the way the game was approached and played in Barbados.
“For example yesterday [Tuesday] when we first came to the gymnasium and we started to warm up, the local team was there sitting listening to music but when they saw us starting to stretch and doing warm-ups forty-five minutes before the game, it seemed to have made an impact on them because they started doing the same things that we were doing,” Kaba said.
A huge fan of Miami Heat star LeBron James, Kaba said: “It has always been my dream to play professional basketball and ever since I came to this club coach Waterman has taught me to believe in myself and that anyone has the potential as long as you really work at it.”
The Phoenix Basketball Club left Barbados for Canada today.