Former national basketballer Anton Lovell may have the answer for the constant cry by local sports associations and federations of not having a home to call their own.
During his address last night at the Barbados Amateur Basketball Association’s (BABA) opening and awards ceremony for the 2020 domestic season at Golden Sands Hotel, Lovell suggested that the dilapidated Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) located on Pinfold Street, be taken into consideration for housing sports once again.
“This is eight years we have been sponsoring the Barbados Basketball Association tournament and every year we hear the same thing about the lack of venues. I have a suggestion; the YMCA needs our help, the YMCA needs our help not only financially but other means as well. We have to come together to help get an indoor facility in that area.
“Yes, we thought when we got the Gymnasium we would have had the opportunity to schedule our games, practices etcetera and push the basketball forward, but unfortunately, all other activity takes precedence above sports, [including] basketball,” said Lovell, who is also the general manager of Co-operators General Insurance.
“So, in my opinion, let’s return to the YMCA and help. The Government, BOA [Barbados Olympic Association], and all the associations should come together and form some committee and help the YMCA. And it is a good time too, because we hear a lot of talk about the revitalization of the Bridgetown and bringing back life to Bridgetown.”
He recalled that in its heyday the YMCA was home to not just basketball but several other sporting disciplines such as football, cricket, hockey and boxing.
“Everything was at the YMCA and we allowed the YMCA to go by and not a fella has said anything about that. Right now we’re hearing about the Liquidation Centre being destroyed and the NIS being destroyed, but sports and something for the youth, you don’t really hear persons pushing that.
“So, my suggestion is that we have to work together. That means to get an indoor facility there in the City, again as I said to bring back life to the City,” Lovell said.
With the new BABA season set to begin on Thursday, featured speaker John King, Minister of Creative Economy, Culture and Sports, revealed that his ministry has a few plans in the works for the development of local basketball.
While responding to Lovell’s suggestions about the YMCA, King agreed that in the 70s, 80s and early 90s basketball had a large following.
However, he noted times had changed and the BABA needed to take a different approach in an effort to revive the sport locally.
“…we all know what it was like going to the YMCA and what we considered then to be huge crowds and the atmosphere and the development of the game. But the truth is in 2020 we are in a completely different environment than what we were in when we were young, and you have to first look at how we communicate to the younger people that you want to get involved. They have nothing to go by in terms of reminiscing on going to the YMCA,” King pointed out.
“And even though I agree with you that there are lots of things that can be done in terms of dealing with that particular thing [YMCA], let me give you a little example of what the ministry itself is undertaking where basketball is concerned. We have instructed the National Sports Council to begin the process of looking for a solution to our basketball courts. It is not lost on us that you can find a lot of young people getting injured playing on hard asphalt courts.
“We are presently looking for a solution to cover at least four or five courts strategically across the island… We also had some conversations with some builders in Barbados to get some prizes in terms of being able to cover the same five courts. We are also looking to see how we can fester them in a way so that the BABA can use them to get the sport across the country, so you can pick up money at the door and encourage people to come.”
Burger King Clapham Bulls’ Akeem Marsh was named the Most Valuable Player for the 2019 league season and the playoffs, while Ryan Leacock was named Coach of the Year having led the Bulls to their first league title in some time.