Barbados’ best power forward Akeem Marsh wants to see more being done for the development of basketball in the island.
Still, on a high from winning his first-ever Co-operators General Insurance Barbados Amateur Basketball Association Premier League title with Burger King Clapham Bulls, Marsh insisted that the time has come for a proper developmental programme.
The 32-year-old who was named most valuable player after the fifth and final series game on Sunday night against Station Hill Cavaliers, explained that countries like Guyana [ranked 80] practised year-round and hence were ahead of Barbados at number 86th on the International Basketball Federation [FIBA] list.
“I think that we need to focus more on development and not only getting a national team when it is time for national tournaments. We go to the tournament with only a month of training. So, we need to get a developmental programme for players to be ready when it’s time for national trials,” Marsh said.
A member of Barbados’ bronze medal team that played in the FIBA AmeriCup 2021 Caribbean Pre-Qualifier last year in Suriname, Marsh added: “Guyana practise year-round, they have a team that practise year-round; we don’t.”
Marsh played an instrumental role this year in the success of Clapham Bulls who reached two major championship finals in the knockout and premier league. Throughout the league season, Marsh had the best individual stats by a Bulls player with an average of 16.7 points per game and a total of 109 rebounds. The next best averages on offence for the Ryan Leacock-coached Bulls team were by guards Andrew Ifill  and Rahiim Gibbons [12.5].
Marsh, who last played for St. John Sonics before they fell from top flight basketball, opted to play for Clapham Bulls this season but did not commit to returning to the team in 2020 when asked about it.
He explained that the decision to join Bulls this year came with some encouragement from players of the team that he grew up playing with.
The six-footer does not intend to leave Barbados right now to further his career as a professional having landed a seven-month contract last year in Australia to play with Gold Coast Rollers which is a professional club in the Queensland Basketball League.
However, he does believe that even though it may be difficult for a Barbadian player to secure a professional contract in such a competitive market, it was not an impossible task. Marsh noted that the youngsters coming up were talented enough and capable.
“Right now, no. Haven’t received an offer in recent times because I don’t have an agent and I am not on the market looking. But if the opportunity comes and it is a good opportunity then maybe.
“In terms of [Barbadian players] getting there, yes, but in terms of competition-wise, I think that we can play with the best of them. It is just for the players here to get the exposure,” Marsh said.
The level of basketball overseas is fast-paced, and for a big man like himself, he explained that lots of strengthening work was required.
“Working on strength because playing on the inside calls for a lot of physicality. So, it is just strength, and I do that in the off-season so that when the season starts, I am stronger and fitter. Overseas is a higher pace basketball game, so fitness is key, especially as a big man,” he said.