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Apr 4, 2022

What’s in the Future for Basketball in Belize?

While there will be an official handing over and press conference later this week, News Five asked B.B.F. President Jacob Leslie about the resurgence of basketball as a leading sport. Leslie says that while the National Elite Basketball League attracts semi-pro athletes and fans from across the country, the federation needs to refocus on developing basketball at all levels, including female athletes.


Jacob Leslie

Jacob Leslie, President, Belize Basketball Federation

“N.E.B.L., which is the highest level of basketball in Belize, is just a small fraction of what the federation is responsible for. And so we have to find out a way of how we can rejuvenate that league because that plays a very important role in basketball in giving the youths hope and something to look forward to. But we also have to figure out how we can find training opportunities for these young people – both males and females. We have to engage our young girls. I know when I was coming up; female basketball was a big part of basketball in Belize.  Now, it is hard pressed to find females who are engaging in the sport. So we have to do a structural change, we have to engage with different district associations and we have to figure out a plan of action of how we can get these young people trained, we can get them engaged and we can create opportunities for them out of it. I think as a country, we have to start to recognize the importance that sports plays in our country, in our community because for too long, we push education, we push all these things, but I have always told people, the thing that has impacted my professional life the most is what I’ve learned through the discipline of basketball, more so than the thing I learned in the classroom. And so we can save a lot of young people if we understand how we can engage them and sports is a way how we can engage young people. When you are young and you come from underprivileged situation, such as I came from, when you are young and birthday, Christmas, any event, they give you a ball. You decide what you do with it – you bunch it, you kick it, you hit it – but we are naturally inclined to sports. And sports engage us, sports distract us from all the things in our neighbourhoods, in our community and it can elevate a country. Right now there are lots of opportunities education-wise for our athletes and we have to make sure they are trained and prepared for when these opportunities come and when we get them, to give them the support that they need to excel. So like I said, it is a structural thing, Mister Moody; we have a lot of work to do, but I am engaged. My passion, it is what I’ve always loved. Basketball saved my life and I look forward to having the position now to have people experience the same thing.”

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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