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Aug 6, 2021

Basketball Camp Focuses on Fundamentals and Positivity

All of 2020, COVID kept us all under lockdown, robbing school children of their summer camps and any opportunity to engage in contact sports.  But this year, with proper guidelines in place, one man managed to convince the parents of twenty-six children and the RF&G Insurance Company to buy into his idea of holding a basketball camp for those children.  Basketball coach, Darwin “Puppy” Leslie told us it was his way of keeping the youths engaged in positive recreation and out of trouble. News Five’s Marion Ali reports.


Marion Ali, Reporting

The lessons these children are being taught while learning the sport of basketball are ones that coach, Darwin “Puppy” Leslie hopes they will apply to their lives long after they leave the court.  The boys, who hail from the Yarborough and Iguana Street areas, are all under twelve years old.  They are at that prime age, he says, to learn they discipline required to master the fundamentals the sport. He forms this opinion having observed basketballers at the highest level in Belize play.


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

Darwin “Puppy” Leslie, Certified FIBA Mini Basketball Coach

“I see where at the highest level they still don’t have some of the fundamentals, which is how to move your feet, how to catch the ball, how to shoot – those basic things. The elite players might not know how to do it. It’s hard to teach that at that level. Now if we start to teach the basics, how to catch the ball, how to shoot the ball, how to use your eyes and hands and foot coordination together because with basketball you need that coordination. That needs to be taught at this age. So when we carry it over to under fourteen, under seventeen, U-twenty-one, National A Team it has already been molded from here.”


Molding the boys to become prime-time players is just part of the purpose of the camp, says Leslie. The other goal is to steer them away from negativity.


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

“The basketball da fi mek deh hurry run and come. Yes, hurry run and come. To teach the basketball is the easy part. To have a father figure around and teach that fatherly role and teach that male figure role, now that more important than anything weh have in air weh deh call wa ball.  I want them to come because in terms of prevention, in terms of not reaction. We don’t want them to reach the police.”


Marion Ali

“So when you find that on the court maybe one’s temper is a little bit more than is tolerated on the court, how do you manage that situation?”


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

“How I manage that is – let’s put basketball aside. There’s something deeper.”


Leslie says that when there is a display of anger on the court, he often delves deeper into that child’s personal life to see where he the real problem lies.


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

“That anger is a reaction. So let’s take a trip to the child’s home. When you go to the home it might be just a mother.”


Marion Ali

“You do all of that?”


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

“It’s part of – you have to do it, if you really care.”


The company that cared enough to invest in this venture was RF&G Insurance. That company’s Marketing Coordinator, Lucien Dawson, says these are just the kinds of projects they look for to invest in.


Lucien Dawson

Lucien Dawson, Marketing Coordinator, RF&G Insurance

“Studies have shown that when you teach children sports it gives them tactical abilities – I would say the soft skills to negotiate, to go through life, you know, to basically do critical thinking. So that’s why we chose the avenue of sports to partner with.  Earlier I was observing them doing their warm-ups and he’s not only teaching them the warm-ups but he’s telling them ‘I’m teaching you this because you need to know this movement when you’re on the court. So it’s beyond just teaching them a bunch of jumping jacks.”


Two of the boys who thought Leslie’s camp was time well-spent were nine-year-old Lebron Stewart and ten-year-old Camry Chavarria.


Marion Ali

“What all you get fi learn?”


Lebron Stewart

Lebron Stewart, Attended Basketball Camp

“How fi dribble and shoot and layup.”


Marion Ali

“What da your favourite part of this whole thing?”


Camry Chavarria

Camry Chavarria, Attended Basketball Camp

“When we were playing a two pahn two.”


Marion Ali

“Weh happen?”


Camry Chavarria

“We were at the final game and it was 19-19, then I blocked a guy, then I grabbed the ball and scored.”


Darwin “Puppy” Leslie

“There can be a future Devon Dailey, a future Quincey Lopez, a future Darwin Leslie, Shape Rhodas, Pulu Lightburn, Postman Estrada, so the aspiration is here and then when the surprise come it’s a surprise for all of us.”


Reporting for News Five, I am Marion Ali.


RF&G has partnered with Leslie in the past to conduct similar basketball camps and it is a venture that its representative said they’re willing to consider again in the future. 

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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