Next Generation Athletics and Basketball Academy have joined forces with Canadian Youth Basketball League called TrueChamps to nurture young upcoming talent in Barbados.
Seven officials under the kind aegis of Hilton Barbados are here on the island conducting a one-week basketball training camp for children ages six to 16 at the Harrison College playing court.
Now in its second year, both Zahir Motara of Next Generation, and Josh Cardoza of TrueChamps told Barbados TODAY it was a vision between the two academies to develop basketball talent from a tender age, and so far, that reality has been successful.
“We wanted to come and help the youth of Barbados better their skills, and we even brought a scout [Lisandro Miranda] who works with Dallas Mavericks to kind of share with these guys what talents we look for, how they can better their game, and the opportunities that are available to them outside of the island.
“This fusion between Next Generation and True Champs is something we hope to continue and watch the growth, as they continue to improve. We have been able to see the improvements from the last visit, we see lots of familiar faces returning, and they continue to remain consistent. They have been really applying some of the things that we talked about the last time we visited because we can see how their shot techniques have changed. And it is really rewarding to be part of that when we see they continue to have a love for the sport and their passion is growing,” Cardoza said.
There are two sessions a day with the mornings at Harrison College and the evenings at the St Michael School. Cardoza said his team that includes sports doctors Joel Kerr and Chad Carter, trainers George Thomas and Jerome Smith along with Argentinian- born scout Lisandro Miranda and videographer Ryan Malcolm-Campbell had been working closely with the national junior teams.
Cardoza noted that even though they weren’t any noticeable NBA prospects just yet for Barbados, there was talent combined with a strong desire to learn which was all part of the making towards developing exceptional players.
“We teach them everything from injury prevention, injury rehabilitation and helping them to understand more about their bodies along with goal-setting. Our goal is to expose them to as much [skills] as the kids in Canada and the United States. I think there is a lot of good raw talent here in Barbados, they are athletic, they have the ability, they listen, they have the intellect behind it, so those are all great components. Compared to Canada and the United States, they start earlier, and when you start from a younger age, you develop skills faster and easier. And that is why we are here to support Next Generation in what they are doing, as I am seeing these young guys and girls coming out, that is the biggest difference in how they are going to continue to catch up and close that gap with other countries,” Cardoza said.
Miranda, a scout of 20-years experience, advised the youngsters present during this morning’s training session to see sports as a powerful tool that could change their lives.
“You just need to focus on the desire and work ethic, and that is going to take you places. Maybe you wouldn’t make it to the NBA, or you wouldn’t be a professional player. But that is going to develop you as a person, and that I think is the most important thing. Sports is such a powerful weapon, and I mean in a good way because sports can change your life. Yeah, it can make you a professional player because of the process, the hard work, listening to coaches, following instruction. That is what’s going to help you for the rest of your life. Even if you are not a professional player, or if you can’t leave Barbados, it is still going to make you a better person, and that’s why I think sports are so important in our societies,” Miranda said.
Meanwhile, Motara, founder of Next Generation, stressed the importance for children to start at a young age in the sport. A total of 36 campers participated this year, and in 2019 the intention is to bring NBA players to work with the children.
“Our programme continues to run year-round but what we want to do for next year with the help of sponsors [because a lot of these guys are coming down out of their own pocket pretty much to help Barbados basketball] is to get this footage out there and try to encourage NBA players to come in and work with the kids to give them that extra motivation to show them what it is like to go through the paces with them on court. So, if we can attract one or two NBA players who are currently playing, then the kids would know they too can do it. It is just to encourage one or two youngsters to work harder and go further in the sport,” Motara said.