The Saint Lucia Basketball Federation (SLBF) on Tuesday, March 5 officially launched its 2013 season under the theme “Basketball: Everyone’s Game!” with major plans and announcement.
The 2013 season kicks off at the Beausejour Indoor Facility this Saturday, March 9 at 5 pm with an opening ceremony followed by two matches.
In a rematch of last year’s final, defending champions Courts Jets will face Canaries Moon River. A team from Tortola, British Virgin Islands will face Morne Gladiators in the second game.
The season will unfold at six locations islandwide: Soufriere, Dennery Multipurpose Complex, Micoud, Gros Islet, Vigie Multipurpose Complex and Beausejour Indoor Facility, which will host the opening matches, the semi-finals and finals.
The finals will be a best-of-three match series.
The 2013 season will be played on two levels. All teams who made it to the knockout stage and beyond in the 2012 season were given a berth in the Premier League. The other teams were placed in the Division 1 league.
Speaking at Tuesday’s launch, held at the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports Conference room at Blue Coral Mall, SLBF President Leslie Collymore was adamant that the clubs in Division 1 were all capable of defeating Premier League teams any time; it was however a decision which was made to accommodate the season.
The Premier League is made up of seven clubs while Division 1 is made up of five clubs, including the current Combined Schools team which will represent St Lucia in the Windward island Tournament in August 2013.
Collymore said the women of Saint Lucia were not forgotten but there are not at present a full complement of women club teams. As such the SLBF will host a Queen of the Hoops open call for all women. The objective of this is to create a national team of female basket players who will represent Saint Lucia regionally and internationally, as well as inspire other young ladies into joining clubs and creating a female basketball league.
Other activities for the 2013 season include the Mini Hoops programme geared towards children ages 5 to 12, and the All Star Weekend tournament which will showcase a slam dunk competition and matches featuring local celebrities and some international players from Saint Lucia.
Collymore noted that while the 2012 season had been full of challenges, including financial difficulties, he and his executive members are committed to the successful hosting of the 2013 season and “with good work, the money and support will come”.
The Bank of St Lucia was on hand to make the first presentation of sponsorship to the SLBF.
Physical support was cited by Collymore as one of the major challenges facing the association. He said many volunteers pledged verbal support but there was a need for that support to be translated into action.
Collymore made special mention of Ian Mitchell, president of the Vide Boutielle Cultural Club (VBCC) whom he said had been a major source of support for the SLBF in the 2012 rookie season and beyond.
Collymore further noted that the SLBF received some assistance from the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) in the form of technical support and the introduction of the 24-second shot clock, which is being introduced for the first time in Saint Lucia. He said this clock has been tested to great results in the pre-season.
The president also called on the media to make a concerted effort to assist in the continuous marketing and visibility efforts of his team.
Also in attendance at Tuesday’s launch were executive members 1st Vice President Jonathan Cox, General Secretary Velica Augustin, Public Relations Officer Neil Joseph and Treasurer Robert Emmanus., as well as Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports, Fortuna Belrose.
Belrose stated that her ministry is very pleased to be associated with the SLBF, and that she is impressed with the level of long-term planning and sustainability programmes by the association. She said the Ministry of Youth Development and Sports is committed to see the SLBF grow and become recognized internationally.
In his presentation, Cox unveiled the newest version of the game: 3×3 basketball which is the faster paced, shorter form of the game, much like T/20 is to cricket. The teams are made up of three players each and they play against a 12-second shot clock. The first team to score 21 wins.
Cox also spoke of FIBA resources geared primarily toward 3×3. He said the online resource is open to all promoters and clubs worldwide.
The SLBF is also newly attached to the FIBA Organizer. This is a resource launched by FIBA to keep profiles and stats for all players at all levels, worldwide.
SLBF Treasurer Robert Emmanus explained that the Organizer ensures that all player stats and profiles are readily available. Players who are in line for scholarships and sponsorships can have their stats properly recorded and available to recruiters and sponsors worldwide. This initiative is new to Saint Lucia and a vital source of information to the SLBF.
The SLBF website was unveiled by General Secretary, Augustin. She walked those present through the features of the new website, which includes up-to-date tournament data, player and team stats, links to FIBA and the Facebook page of SLBF, as well as contact information and news. The website is www.stluciabasketball.com.