JaBA putting focus on youth
Robert Bailey, Gleaner Writer
The interim steering committee of the Jamaica Basketball Association (JaBA) has decided to relaunch its national junior youth programmes, after more than a five-year absence from regional competitions.
The committee, which is headed by Hazel Cameron, has been running the affairs of the local governing body since April, this after the JaBA elections was postponed until further notice.
Ajani Williams, who been has been the president of JaBA for the past four years, has announced that he will not be seeking re-election.
The Jamaicans were once a dominant force in the regional junior basketball competitions, winning a number of titles at the Under-19 and Under-17 levels.
However, the administration led by Williams, which took office in 2010, disbanded the national junior teams and focused its resources on the senior programme.
Calvin Martin, vice-chairman of the interim committee, told The Gleaner in an interview that the response to youth approach has been overwhelming.
"I know that our youngsters are happy for this because you can see the response that we have been receiving on our Facebook page," said Martin.
"The Association has a duty to ensure that all opportunities to develop our young talents are utilised and so us bringing back these programmes is what all the members of basketball community have been crying for for years," he said.
Martin disclosed that the national Under-17 team is scheduled to face their Cayman Island counterparts in a home series in October.
"Our youth programs made us proud in the past because we were once a dominant force in the Caribbean and I don't see any reason why, in a few years, we can't return to those glory days."
Alf Remekie, technical director of JaBA, said he is very happy that the interim committee has decided to revive the junior programmes.
"We are starting with the Under-17 team because we expect a visit from the Cayman Islands in October and so we are going to prepare the Under-17 team towards that visit," said Remekie. "We are going to also start our Under-15 and Under-19 teams in late September."
He stated that the youngsters are very enthusiastic about the prospects of representing the country in regional competitions.
"We have a very good set of youngsters, but our Under-17 players are our most talented set," he said. "We have selected a squad that is going to start training, and half of them are from the rural parishes and that is a first for us. In previous years, the teams were loaded with urban players," Remekie outlined.