By Neto Baptiste
A telethon put on by Wadadli Elite and the Antigua and Barbuda Basketball Association (ABBA), has raised over EC $20,000 as they seek to fund a one-month tour for 21 elite youth basketball players and coaching staff to the USA over the summer vacation.
The event, held on Observer Radio’s Good Morning Jojo Sports Show on Tuesday, was spearheaded by head of Wadadli Elite and a vice president of the basketball association, Byron Andrew, who said pledges came from several good corporate and private citizens.
“We have Marlon Higgins and he’s pledged over $1,500. Of course, I can’t be part of it and my company does not support, so my company is supporting by way of $5,000. Paradiso Water and Mr Hilroy Humphreys has pledged $2,700 which is just about US $1,000. We have an aviation company, Aviation Business Ltd, and they have pledged US $2,500 so that’s well over $7,000 there. My good friend Earl Richards from Scotiabank is doing $500 and of course Mr Chalita Rose has pledged his support, Petra Williams has pledged support as well, and it doesn’t matter how much it is,” he said.
The initiative, which had a target of EC $50,000 was part of efforts to raise the funding required to finance the team’s travel to New York on the 24th of June before returning on 27th of July.
Once in the US, the team will play in tournaments and scrimmages against a number of high schools, colleges in hopes of exposing players to an elite level of basketball.
Andrew said this has been his dream for some time now and credited US-based college coach Donald Francois for assisting in making it a reality.
“This has been in my mind for years in terms of having a team from Antigua or the Caribbean play in AAU [Amateur Athletic Union] tournaments in the United States. A few years ago, I thought I was very close to getting something like that done and it just never materialised. Fortunately, about three years ago, I met coach Donald Francois, who is the head coach at Archbishop Molloy High School in New York and from day one, when we spoke initially, we just had this camaraderie with each other and we had the same dream to help young people,” he said.
Those wishing to pledge can still do so by calling or sending a WhatsApp message to 781-4993.