By Carlena Knight
After a two-year hiatus, Schools’ Basketball will be making its return later this month.
Schools’ Basketball coordinator, Carl ‘Bowlie’ Knight, confirmed the news over the weekend while speaking exclusively to Observer media.
The former national player could not contain his excitement over the news.
“We are all happy and excited about being back out to work, dealing with the children. The children themselves are so happy. I took a look down at Villa School and the Antigua Grammar School, there’s so many children that are coming out. I even had to tell the coach to cut down some of the numbers so, yes, everyone is excited and we are just looking forward for the opportunity to continue. We hope everything will go well in terms of the health situation so that our children can continue to develop their skills in the various sports,” Knight said.
This year’s edition of the competition will however not follow its original format, but will instead feature six skill events so as to comply with the Covid protocols.
Knight gave some details on this new format.
“We are going to have things like an individual shoot-out where both persons would get 15 shots to shoot. Then, we will have a two-man shoot-out, and an individual speed-dribble competition. Now, we will break that down into a left-hand and right-hand section. So, one individual will represent the school in the left-hand category and another in the right,” Knight explained.
“We will then have a four-man speed relay competition followed by a five-man skills challenge, and that skills challenge will take in things like dribbling, passing and of course shooting,” he added.
The events comprise of daily match-ups for four schools which means on a given day, there will be no more than 20 to 24 athletes at the venue.
Winners of the events will garner points for their school which will go towards a final tally that will decide the overall school champions.
Outstanding performances in each category and other individual awards will also be given.
Unlike previous tournaments, where there were several age categories, Knight revealed that there will only be one overall team representing the school.
Each team will comprise of five players.
“This does not mean that on another day where the school is competing that they can’t use another set of players. We want to ensure that all of the athletes who are showing up for practice get an opportunity to compete as well,” Knight clarified.
This, he explained is to comply with Covid protocols and deter large gatherings at the venue.
The basketball legend explained that the overall aim of the competition is to “focus on sharpening the fundamentals in the junior ballers as it has been two years since any sort of competition has been played.”
He also revealed that long-time sponsor, Cool and Smooth, is still onboard and thanked the owners for their continued dedication and support for the nation’s junior basketballers.
As with domestic sports, school sports were forced to end in March 2020 after Antigua and Barbuda recorded its first case of the coronavirus.
Sports Minister, Daryll Matthew, last month, revealed that the return of school sports had been sanctioned, but said that it must also receive the blessings of the relevant health authorities.
Since then, a meeting was held with Ministry of Sports officials and coordinators in late January to discuss its return.
Further reports indicate that unvaccinated students will be allowed to participate, but must continue to provide two negative Covid-19 tests monthly.
The Cool and Smooth Inter-school Basketball Competition will shoot off on February 28 at the JSC Sports Complex.