‘Time to develop youth basketball’ - National coordinator Edwards outlines plans for young players
A little over a month into her new role as national youth basketball coordinator, former national player Simone Edwards says plans are already in motion to revamp Jamaica’s basketball development by recruiting and training young basketballers from across the diaspora, as well as offer strong local programmes to aid players.
Edwards, who is now charged with identifying players, organising local and international training camps, and developing players and competitive national youth teams, also declared that if the global pandemic is brought under control soon, she expects to have the programme fully operational by January.
“Right now I am doing the groundwork, and there are two things we are going to do. The first is, connect with our local coaches and identify young athletes for development, because there is no development. We need the kids back home to get better development, so we are trying to reach out to the parishes to make sure we identify talent and make sure these kids are being developed. Some are too poor, and we need somewhere where they can have food and play basketball. We want them to get to their full potential, so we want to set up places in Kingston for these kids, as we don’t want to leave any of them out,” Edwards insists.
“We also want to include Jamaican kids from all over the diaspora, but the hardest thing is to assemble these kids, so we are making sure we connect with these (overseas) coaches and have a place to train,” she added.
The former WNBA player revealed they are also working on scholarship programmes for players and have been interacting with the business community, which she hopes will come on board to help them develop these.
“We don’t want to rush anything, we are just trying to connect with everybody – FIBA, USA Basketball, the business community and others – to make sure the kids are learning through sports, as it is not just about running and jumping on the court. We want to provide psychologists, coaches, mentors, all the things to make sure they develop in the right way.
“We want to have the right people in place, we want to make good connections, and we are pleased with the groundwork we have done. The next step is to get the kids together and start training by January, and we should start that if things are good. Although based on the COVID-19 situation, we don’t know if it is going to be safe, but by January, if things get back to normal, we should be up and running,” she said.
“I want this change, so I have to be the change I want to see, so I have to do this. I want these kids to be developed so we can have good teams in the future,” she added.
Edwards, who played for the New York Liberty and the Seattle Storm, was the first Caribbean woman to play in the WNBA. She represented the national team for over a decade and was bestowed with the Order of Distinction in 2017.