By Sean Devers
The Pepsi Sonics Basketball Club and the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport annual Easter Basketball Clinic got on the way on Monday at the Cliff Anderson Sport Hall (CASH) under the watchful eyes of North American based Coaches Aubrey ‘Charlie’ Chalmers, George Sharple and Holisworth Casey.
President of Pepsi Sonics Merle Casey described the Clinic, which is scheduled to conclude on Tuesday and catered for youths between the ages of 8 and 18, as very important for the young participants some of whom were playing basketball for the first time.
The former National female player who represented Guyana from 1986-1990, said that her biggest challenge is the lack of sponsorship and feels that more companies should support youths since it is at that age they need guidance and support and not when they are established players.
“If ignored they could easily become a burden to society and maybe turn to crime and other social ills. Sports could help to prevent that from happening,” Casey said.
The towering Casey said that the lack of sponsorship and unavailability of a venue prevented the Clinic from starting earlier and running for a longer duration and thanked Automotive Essentials for their sponsorship. She also said that Demerara Distillers Limited (DDL) provided refreshments while Neil Kumar and the Sports Ministry ensured the use of the National Sports Hall for the first time after previous Clinics, held during Easter and the August holidays, were held at the National Gymnasium.
“I am very satisfied with the programme, which is an annual one and the quality of Coaches the youth are being exposed to. Both Chalmers and Sharple are former Guyana players and it’s a pity they could not be here longer. They are expected to leave tomorrow (today) and we will use our local Coaches when they leave,” Casey informed.
Chalmers, who resides in Canada, represented Guyana from 1972-1981 and was a facilitator last year, he explained that 22 kids participated in the Clinic which comprised the fundamentals of Basketball which he stressed is very important to those now learning the game.
“We did some drills and finished off each session with playing sessions where they got to display what they had learnt. Many of these kids have the ability to progress in the future and I was impressed by their enthusiasm. This is a good program but it should be continuous…. not just for a week …the sport has to be taken back to the schools,” Chalmers opined.
Sharple, who played for his country between 1972-1985, said the standard of local basketball has dropped in comparison to the 1970s and 1980s and agreed with Chalmers that it was imperative that sports play a bigger role in the schools.
“You also need to get places like Linden, Berbice and Kwakwani back into the mix since those areas produced a lot of National players in the past,” Sharple said.
On his first visit to Guyana in 28 years, Sharple explained that an ex-Guyana National Basketball Association was formed in the USA which would contribute balls and other gear to the local sport and when Merle said she wanted some assistance with coaching he willingly got on board.
“When we played we would go on tours to Barbados, Suriname and Trinidad to play against club teams. The National teams today don’t get enough exposure but then it comes back to funding.
Holisworth Casey who lives in Brooklyn is the Treasurer of the Pepsi Sonics Club and assisted with coaching the youngsters yesterday. Merle Casey concluded by saying that there was a lot of work to be done in the sport but feels that new President Nigel Hinds is doing a commendable job so far in reviving basketball in Guyana.
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