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Aug 16, 2013

Corporate sponsors get serious about youths’ hoop dreams

The Ballers for Life Basketball Summer Camp closed this morning with a rally and inter-district competition at the Saint John’s College gymnasium in Belize City. It’s a program hosted by the Belize Basketball Federation throughout the country and today seven hundred youths from as far as Punta Gorda and Corozal came together in one location to show off their basketball skills. Mike Rudon dribbled with the players on the court.

 

Mike Rudon, Reporting

Youths of all ages from all corners of the country stood together and played together at the St. John’s gymnasium this morning. There were serious ballers, kids just having fun and everything in between, but for just this moment they were all united in their love for the sport. The camp is hosted by the Belize Basketball Federation and Smart is the main sponsor of the annual event.

 

Paul Thompson, President, Belize Basketball Federation

Paul Thompson

“We try to do an annual summer camp countrywide for basketball. We have representative district associations in each district, and each district association conducts a summer camp, and this today is the culmination of that summer camp in the form of a rally. The camp this year…we have over seven hundred participants and today they all came to Belize – not all of them but the ones that got permission to come – come to Belize to compete against each other. What we do at this rally is we provide all campers with a t-shirt. The t-shirts are color-coded so we can differentiate the districts.”

 

Ian Courtenay – PR Officer, Smart

“We see sports as a way that the young people in our society can get the skills of discipline, teamwork, determination and so on that will serve them in years to come.”

 

Ian Courtenay

And even from a cursory look, it was obvious that this morning there was some serious basketball talent and potential under one roof. BBF President Paul Thompson says that it’s bigger than just the game, and the hoop dreams of these youths deserve adequate and sustained investment.

 

Paul Thompson

“Basketball, sports in general I believe is an investment. It should be an investment in our nation. It leads to a healthy lifestyle so it’s an investment in the health of the country. And health plays a big role in the productivity of the country. So sports, you can say, helps in the productivity of the country and I think we need to invest more in this type of a thing.”

 

The Belize Basketball Federation and Smart are pumping significant finances into sports.

 

Ian Courtenay

“We look at ways how we can help develop sports, develop the athletes themselves so that they can hopefully further their education or become professional athletes…with the hope that they will come back and give back to the communities they come out of.”

 

Paul Thompson

“This annual Ballers for Life camp is a part of a bigger picture. This is a part of our strategic plan. We focus a lot on youths. This is only one initiative of many. There is a summer camp…there is a U-fifteen, U-seventeen program that we try to do every year. Early next year we should launch an Elite League. We have gotten commitment from a sponsor, a private sponsor, so we are in the planning stages of doing an Elite League. So we go from summer camps, we do a mini-basketball program, we do a U-fifteen and U-seventeen, and now we will have a showcase for these young players to look up to or look forward to when they become adults in the form of an Elite League.”

 

The rally today features games in the Under-twelve, Under-fifteen and Under-seventeen categories. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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