Women’s basketball in Barbados is in the doldrums. It is in a state where it is on the verge of dying unless the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association (BABA) comes up with ways for its resurgence.
The 2019 #1 Beauty Supplies and Exchange Women’s League season saw one of the worse ever turnouts with only three teams entered. These were later reduced to two after last year’s champions Lady Cougars dropped out of the tournament. That left the unusual spectacle of a two-team tournament with Preferred Insurance Brokers Pinelands being crowned league champions last Saturday and Combined Schools Lady Tridents the obvious runners-up.
Victorious player and coach of Pinelands, Sade Clarke, who is also on the BABA executive as public relations officer, explained that the local governing body was urgently looking at ways to resuscitate the women’s game to avoid its sudden death.
“We the committee are trying our hardest to revive it, we have to come up with some plans next year to get the young ones interested. To be fair, Cougars is an old team, Pinelands is an old team, the only youngsters you have are schoolgirls, and that was a bench of twelve. So if you take away that twelve we don’t have anything. So, the plan is to get the past scholarship winners, some of the past national players to get into the schools, the communities and try to play the shorter version of the game [three on three] to get the girls interested. Then when the shorter version brings excitement, we would try to translate it into five on five,” Clarke said.
Also a senior national point guard, Clarke noted that while women’s basketball required care locally, the irony for the past two years has been the selection of schoolgirls particularly from the Combined Schools Tridents team for national duties over more experienced players.
“It has been happening over the past two years. The coach has the last say, the senior players turned out to the trials, but at the end of the day they got cut,” Clarke stated.
Denise Alleyne, a former national player and coach of Combined Schools Lady Tridents, believes that there might not be any women left to develop in local basketball unless swift intervention occurs.
Alleyne told Barbados TODAY she was not sure what the BABA intended to do to generate interest but made a few suggestions she believed would breathe life back into the women’s game.
“We have to involve the schools and the National Sports Council. It has to be a combined effort to get people playing the game or trying the game and then taking it to the next level. The problem is to get people playing, not just the older people but to get new people playing the game and that is the problem. If you don’t keep replacing the ones that leave then there is no trail. So, some go, no new ones come, and then you end up with two teams like what transpired here, so we need to get the interest there. Just like how netball and volleyball and all those other sports that female play, they have a lot of people playing, they have a lot of new people, they have beginners, and they have competitions that would have six, eight, ten teams. We need to get back to that place, but we need to get people playing basketball, it is not going to happen next year, we have to go grassroots and work from there to get the sport [women] back up,” Alleyne said.
After the withdrawal of 2018 champions Lady Cougars, this was the closest Lady Tridents got to winning a women’s league title. Despite falling short to Pinelands, coach Alleyne praised their performance and credited the school’s programme conducted by the National Sports Council.
“… it is the Combined Schools programme through the National Sports Council, but at this time we will give them time to rest. These girls just came out of the junior national team which competed in Puerto Rico in July, and now they are going into the secondary school league, so we have to give them some time to mesh with their school teams. So, they will have some downtime from the programme [NSC]. But sometime around December we will pick back up and at least get in one day a week where they can work on their skills.
“We have a younger group in a development programme, and that is our feeder system for Combined Schools, so we don’t want to put too much basketball on them now. But we also don’t want them to run away and forget about the skills and stuff like that. I don’t know what is going to happen with the women’s league next year, so all I can do is prepare and be ready,” Alleyne said.