By Neto Baptiste
Competitive basketball could return in the last quarter of the year.
This is according to General Secretary of the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), Jennell Willette, who said that following a recent meeting with clubs, the association decided that a competition should be held somewhere between August and December this year.
“We are looking to restart some form of basketball activity, but we are going to do it in the form of a youth games so in August, our intention is to host a two-week summer jamboree for persons preferably under the age of 18. We have not fully decided the age category as yet and that’s simply to facilitate the younger persons who are off from school during the summer, and we don’t have ask for their proof of vaccination,” she said.
There has been no competitive basketball since March last year when the country recorded its first case of the coronavirus. The sport has been relatively silent since then with little to no news on the way forward.
According to Willette however, the body is now moving full steam ahead as it prepares for a comeback.
“We did submit a proposal to the Ministry of Sports with our proposed protocols to restart competitive basketball in Antigua and Barbuda, so following that submission we would then have a follow-up meeting with the Ministry of Sports, and whosoever in terms of health officials, to see what can be done in terms of senior basketball and persons over the age of 18,” she said.
“We know that vaccination is mandatory for competition, so we had a meeting last week with the teams of ABBA so what we are trying to do now is trying to collect some information from those teams to determine what percentage of our basketball players are vaccinated,” Willette added.
The general secretary said that based on feedback coming out of the recent meeting, teams are eager to get back on the court of play.
“The feedback was positive in terms of wanting to play basketball and return basketball to some level of normalcy. However, in terms of the players, that we cannot speak to until we get the preliminary assessment in terms of the vaccination status. When you drive through the various communities you see that people are playing basketball, so I know that they miss basketball and they want to play basketball, but in terms of taking that step to get vaccinated to play basketball, that I can’t say,” she said.
Northside Stingerz led the top division when the competition was halted in 2020 with the basketball association later deciding to rule the competition null and void.