Matthew: Youth to benefit from hosting of LIBA tournament

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President of the Antigua & Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), Daryll Matthew, said his organisation jumped at the opportunity of hosting the Leeward Islands Basketball Association (LIBA) Under-20 Tournament because of the benefits to be derived by the country’s young players.
The tournament, which is slated for August 23-27, was officially slated for St Maarten who recently pulled out of the commitment owing to financial constraints.
Matthew believes there are a number of benefits to be derived from hosting the important tournament.
“A, I think we have an excellent crop of young male players right now and just looking at the ABBA league you would know what we are talking about. B, two years ago when we last participated in this tournament most of our players were 16 and 17 years old and we still placed third in that edition of the competition and so those players now have another two years of experience under their belts and we still have young players coming up,” he said.
“We thought it was a good opportunity for them to play at home and see because we think it builds a lot of interest in that youth demographic where your peers, your schoolmates, your family can come out to see you play,” he added.
This year’s tournament has been modified to allow young players within the sub-region an opportunity to exhibit their skills and Matthew has welcomed the change.
“With the exception of Antigua, the other islands do not participate at a higher level of basketball like the Caribbean Championships and so their senior teams do not get an opportunity to play anywhere. The same applies for the junior teams as well and so we thought that rather than to have a senior tournament every year that we should alternate it so that both age groups get an opportunity to exhibit their skills and make it a good event,” the basketball boss said.
Funding for the tournament, Matthew said, will be secured through support from corporate Antigua while the association has actively been raising funds towards its hosting.
“I am told that we have received some support or commitment of support from the National Olympic Committee. We have not written to government about it because we know the government is a little strained and cash-strapped and so we are working with our corporate partners out there to raise those funds,” he said.
“We put on a fund-raising activity a couple of weeks ago in form of a fun walk which was tremendously supported by the public. We have another fund-raising activity coming up in another couple of weeks and so we are raising our funds and we have been getting good support from the corporate community in support of basketball,” he added.
In 2015, Antigua captured third place in the U-20 Male LIBA Tournament held in Montserrat.

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