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Jamaica's Paul Gordon: ''We want a primary league throughout the nation''
KINGSTON (Jamaica) - As in other Caribbean nations, basketball in Jamaica fights to become the number one sport among its people. This, however, hasn’t stopped Basketball Jamaica and its president, Paul Gordon, to continue their efforts of providing diverse options and activities to keep their youth active and away from problems.
“In Jamaica, basketball isn't considered a priority sport,” said Gordon to FIBA.basketball. “Track and field is Jamaica’s passion, football, cricket, netball... You see basketball, but it's not part of Jamaica’s popular culture.
My focus as President is truly on the youth level. We want a primary league throughout the nation. Many known primary leagues are in Kingston, the city. We want our youth to start playing at a younger age,” added Gordon.
For this, the Federation has an extensive athletic program during the summer to encourage young people to play basketball. At the same time, the organization seeks sponsorship opportunities in the private sector.
One of these projects is the upcoming Summer League, which will begin on June 29 and will last six weeks in preparation for the tournaments taking place in September and October. Although the competition is for the school league, girls and boys from the general community may participate.
President Gordon explained: “We have camps that many secondary schools use to prepare their school-level players. We have two divisions; eight teams in the U16 and eight more in U19.”
This tournament was the inspiration to create an initiative for a category exclusive to girls younger than 14. This group had to compete in an open category before, facing the competition of up to 18 years of age.
The SBC Primary and Prep Camp were another one of the activities prepared by the Southern Basketball Conference, an organization allied to the Federation that welcomed players from the ages of 9 to 12 and offered them basic basketball clinics.
Finally, from July 14 to 19, it comes to the scene the main event for players younger than 18 and with the greatest projection on the island that is seeking opportunities to study and play overseas.
“At Star Search, we bring the best 120 players younger than 18 from around the island. There’ll be a one-week resident camp with staff from the United States and Canada. This is usually one of the best moments of the summer program,” said Gordon.
The Federation's President was also adamant on the need of continuing the development of the country's coaches and directives, as well as increasing the number of table officials and referees in the island. He also emphasized his interest in improving basketball infrastructure on the island.
The Jamaican men’s U17 team is currently preparing for their preparation in the Centrobasket U17 Championship, which will take place from July 24 to 28.