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Apr 12, 2007

Basketball camp to keep youth off the streets

Story PictureThe sight of young men playing basketball is a familiar scene on courts across the country. But then again, the sight of many more young men loitering on street corners is just as common. And while many of us have accepted that reality, today Janelle Chanona met a group of concerned Belizeans who are determined to use the popular sport to make a difference.

Janelle Chanona, Reporting
For the last two weeks, more than a hundred high schoolers have been participating in a two-week basketball camp at the Bird’s Isle in Belize City. The Rose Classic International is the brain child of Belizean-American Cleon Hyde and a group of his friends.

Cleon Hyde, Organiser
“The name Rose, it actually represents peace and unity and everyone knows what’s going on in Belize with all the kids and violence. So I came up with the idea with a few friends and with my affiliates in New York, Nike, we decided that I wanted to do something down here and give back to the kids of Belize.”

Anwar Gladden, Coach
“Well me and Cleon Hyde, we’re both from Belize so we figure it’s a way to give back to the Belize community.”

“It’s been great. Over a hundred kids in the camp, they are having a good time, they are coming out each day, they are participating and hopefully we can keep it going for years to come.”

The camp was designed for boys, but Tiffara Swift can hold her own on the basketball court. She’s hoping these kinds of events will give her a real shot at her hoop dreams.

Tiffara Swift, Player
“It mek I be like wah lee celebrity; everybody know Tiffara Smith. And it help me inna my school work. And I want to be a professional basketball player, so it help me with if I wah get a scholarship to goh cross go play.”

And while these athletes are playing for prizes, organisers say the real reward will be on and off the court.

Brads Neal, Organiser
“We have to find avenues to allow them to grow, to allow them to see what basketball can give them. And we feel that basketball is a good avenue for them to come and utilise their time in a positive, constructive way.”

“There’s a lot of distraction in the city right now as you know, and if we could find an avenue where kids can use that energy in a constructive and a positive way, I think that’s a major plus. Plus, we’re also creating a pipeline with some of our friends in the U.S. that we could get some of these kids some scholarships or opportunities to be seen by coaches because Antwon coaches in the university. He has a female team and Cleon is not here right now, but he actually works for a Nike sponsor, so we’re really trying to get ourselves connected to people that can help us develop the sport and at the same time expose our kids to basketball at the next level.”

Garshon Rodriguez, Player
“I think these camps are very good because like during the Easter time there’s a lot of things to do and minds might wander and do all sorts of negative things. So this camp is kinda good because it helps people to come and do something that is positive.”

Finals for the basketball camp are scheduled for ten on Friday morning. Reporting for News Five, I am Janelle Chanona.

Organizers plan to hold the event annually in April. Local sponsors for the two week camp included the Young family and the Belize City Council.

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