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Jul 31, 2002

Belizean in the NBA returns to teach kids

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Every child who ever held a basketball has dreamed of playing in the NBA in front of thousands of screaming fans and sinking a desperation game winning shot at the buzzer. This week hundreds of Belizean youths are getting the chance to learn the game from a man who has lived that very dream. News 5′s Jacqueline Woods reports from the S.J.C. Gym.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting

The number of children was greater than what the organisers had expected to attend the basketball camp. A total of seventy boys and girls had registered to learn the skills of the game but…

Paul Flowers, Co-ordinator, Milton’s Pride Basketball Camp

“When I showed up this morning, one hundred and twenty, Jackie! One hundred and twenty! I mean it’s more than overwhelming, my biggest problem is the gifts that I suppose to give out. I don’t know how that will work out but I will go by faith. But you can’t turn back the kids.”

The camp is the creation of Belizean NBA player, Milton Palacio. Palacio, a backup point guard for the Phoenix Suns, has made the decision to help develop the sport in Belize.

Milton Palacio, Organiser, Milton’s Pride Basketball Camp

“First of all, my parents are from Belize. My whole family is from Belize, I am a Belizean so I think it is a great way to give back. I think you have to start with the kids, you have to start with the youth and that’s why I think I’ve always wanted to start with. It’s just finally a dream come through, I can come back and have a camp. I’ve always envisioned this and I’m just glad that it could come through.”

Today, the children were given the opportunity to develop their athletic skills, something that was never previously available to local basketball players.

Fred Garcia, Dir., Milton’s Pride Basketball Camp

“In the past, especially for us who love the game, we’ve had tremendous problems learning it from the people who came before. And it’s simply because there was never an avenue, so it’s no one’s fault. For us who’ve played abroad in college and at the professional level in Europe, what we decided was, I think it’s time we gave back so that these kids… Because for me, at sixteen I was one of the better players here in this country, but there was nowhere else for me to go. So with the development of these kids, what we’re hoping for, is that by the time they hit that age group, they’ll be a lot further along that I was. So I think that’s one of the key with everybody here why we’re trying to give back for these kids.”

But did it have to take a NBA player to get such a programme started? Palacio says it shouldn’t.

Milton Palacio

“Some people say, well we don’t have this, we don’t have this money, we don’t have this, and I don’t think it’s about that because to be honest with you, we’re not putting that much money into this camp. It’s just getting balls and getting things like that. But I think you just have to have the right connections… and like I said, I have to give credit to Paul Flowers and Clifton because they worked their butts off. While I was in the States they were working hard to get this thing going. And all I had to do was come in here and just try to organise the thing and get the kids going. So it’s kind of surprising that there wasn’t a camp done like this before. But now that we have the blocks set for it, we can just keep furthering.”

Palacio says the camp will be an annual event and there are plans to include other activities in the programme. Jacqueline Woods, reporting for News 5.

Some of the players on our National Basketball Team are also assisting in the camp.

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