Sun | Nov 18, 2018

Hoop Kidz to host prep school basketball tournament

Published:Tuesday | June 26, 2018 | 8:23 AM

Despite being one of the fastest growing sports in the world and the most lucrative in professional sports, basketball has not enjoyed as much popularity here in Jamaica as it did in the 1990s. This is set to change however as a new youth basketball coaching organisation, Hoop Kidz is aiming to rejuvenate the sport from the ground up by hosting this year’s Jamaica Independent Schools Association (JISA) basketball tournament, which gets under way today at Jamaica College.  

Competition organiser Winston Keyes, regional sports director of JISA, said the decision to partner with Hoop Kidz and move the tournament to JC this year, was based on his impression of what the Hoop Kidz team was doing with basketball.

“Basketball at the youth level is in desperate need of a shot in the arm,” Keyes said. “The Hoop Kidz management team has a very broad, youth centric vision of how to rebuild the sport in Jamaica, by focusing on the kids.”

Dwight Jarrett, director of Hoop Kidz, said that “Hoop Kidz is a collection of three youth basketball camps aimed squarely at prep and primary school children aged 7-11 and designed to teach basketball all year round. There is the summer basketball camp, a weekend (Saturday) camp and an after school camp hosted at participating schools and held during the school term.”

The idea, Jarrett said, was to make teaching fundamental basketball to kids as fun, interactive and enjoyable as possible, in order to get them to develop a love for the game.

“At this age, we have to make the sport seem more like a fun pastime rather than rigorous, strenuous training sessions in order to help develop a strong attraction to the sport. Once that is established, it is seamless to move them on to more intense training later,” he added.

This year’s JISA competition will feature seven prep school teams from Kingston and St Andrew; Mavisville Prep, St Hugh's Prep, St Andrew Prep, Emmanuel Christian Academy, Ardenne Prep, Stella Maris Prep and Hillel. The tournament starts at 1 p.m. at the Patrick Gordon Basketball Court at JC. Mavisville Prep are the defending champions but will be under pressure to retain their title, especially from a very talented Hillel team.

“Although they’re young, the kids are very competitive and take winning seriously. In fact, I expect that most of the players will be attending the Hoop Kidz Summer Camp to help sharpen their skills and improve their game,” said Keyes.

The Hoop Kidz Summer Basketball Camp will run July 2-26 at JC, and is open to boys and girls ages 7-11. The camp is a fundamentals camp and no previous basketball knowledge or experience is necessary, although more advanced players will be given a special training regimen. Parents can sign up and get more information at the camp’s website www.hoopkidzja.com.