The Youth Basketball Guyana (YBG) along with the National Sports Commission (NSC) had a successful opening for the 6th edition of the National Schools’ Basketball Festival yesterday at the Cliff Anderson Sports Hall (CASH).
President of the YGB, Chris Bowman improved this year’s edition of the tournament by decentralizing the tournament from Georgetown. It is now being played in five different regions which were termed as conferences.
The tournament saw 45 schools participating which were divided into five conferences – the Georgetown Conference, the East Coast Conference, the East Bank Conference, the Linden Conference and the Berbice Conference.
However, with all the conference finals completed, a total of 29 schools will now compete for various overall titles since teams were ranked during the conference games according to their win or loss record.
Twelve teams will make up the Division One or higher ranked schools while 8 teams will make up the Division Two or lower ranked schools.
Six teams will also be a part of an under-16 category while for the first time in the tournament three girls teams will participate.
At the opening ceremony, Gervy Harry of the NSC did the welcome address and congratulated the sponsors for making the tournament a success while wishing the players well.
Minister of Sports, Dr. Frank Anthony along with Director of Sport, Neil Kumar and Bowman then greeted the various schools after the arrival of the teams in a march past after the National Anthem was sung by Mark Fernandes along with an opening prayer by Rev. Colin Edghill.
Bowman then expressed gratitude to the sponsors and both the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Education for the pivotal roles they have played in the success of the tournament to date.
“This tournament is possible thanks to the various sponsors and organizations that have seen it fit to invest in basketball at a grass roots level and we are very grateful for your efforts. I also want to wish the athletes well in the tournament,” Bowman stated.
Meanwhile, Kumar in his remarks said, “I was happy when Chris told me we would be having 45 schools in the tournament when we launched a few weeks ago and to see where we are today it is to show the development of the programme. We the government is trying to make genuine efforts for these grass root tournaments to develop but would hope to see more basketball activities among communities.”
The main address was done by Anthony who declared the festival open while pointing out the different areas of development in the tournament during the course of the past six years. He applauded Bowman for his vision and effort and pledged the government’s support and alliance with the YBG.
“Our relationship with Bowman over the past years was a good one and we applaud his persistence and vision and I want to challenge him that in the next tournament there are more females participating since sports are for both genders. I must commend the decentralizing of the tournament as well which we the government support. So I want to wish the athletes well and declare the sports open,” Anthony said.
During his speech Anthony also disclosed that the government will be developing various grassroots programmes in schools, especially in the areas of squash, athletics and volleyball.
He also indicated that the ministry will be developing multi-purpose courts where various sports can be played in nine schools on the coastland while the ministry will give away 30 table tennis boards to schools.