Director of the Hugh Campbell Basketball Invitational, Vincent Sullivan, confirmed yesterday that the Eight Mile Rock Blue Jays will be the only team from Grand Bahama playing in the annual tournament.The decision made by the other eight head coaches from invited schools in Grand Bahama, to not participate this year due to finances, still remains which leaves Sullivan trying to fill the slots. Many believe that this is a mini boycott by the Grand Bahama based schools, a theory that was quickly dismissed by head coach of the Tabernacle Baptist Falcons, Norris Bain. The Falcons are the defending championships. They have won straight titles, and six in total.
“It is not a boycott of the Hugh Campbell tournament, it is just too financially taxing at this time,”said Bain.”We just can’t go, we can’t afford to go. If I am invited and I can’t afford to go, my mum always told me, if you cannot afford it, do not put your basket higher than you can reach. At the end of the day, when I put us in a financial bind, I wonder who will come and help bail us out, so I have to be sensible.
“My invitation was fax to me and after reading it, because we had our meeting prior to receiving the invitation, I just filled it out and returned it to him(Sullivan)telling him that we just cannot come this year. Hopefully, people will not be reading into it. There is already too much being read into it. As far as I am concerned, if you have been invited somewhere and you can’t afford to go, I have been taught to say that I cannot make it, this time it is because of finances. I don’t understand why there is such a big thing surrounding the issue. People are calling it a boycott, it is not a boycott, we just cannot afford to go this year.”
Bain said the decision has nothing to do with the organizers of the Hugh Campbell Invitational or the teams which compete. According to him, the financial strain will be too much to deal with at this time and he is not prepared to undertake such a strain this year. He said that around$8-10,000 is spent to send the Falcons team to the tournament. The money is used for accommodation, airfare and meals for a team of about 13-15 basketball players, and even though the finances has always been a concern of Bain, he said,”this year it is a greater burden.”
“The burden to try to deal with it, it is greater than trying to deal with it in previous years, but definitely, we will not be hurting the children. We have sat down and talk to them and I am a firm believer that if you take something away, you have to put something back in place,”said Bain.
“They are alright. They understood because we laid out the entire process for them. We explained to them that we are going to try and do some things to make sure that they are still seen by the colleges and the universities, so some things are in place for that. Most of the kids who are playing, they are playing for an opportunity to go to college. If you mean they will be short of three or four tapes, I don’t think that it is going to hurt them. We have put things in place to try and make sure that the void that is going to be created will be filled.”
The presence of the other eight teams, from Grand Bahama, that usually participate in the tournament will definitely be missed. Tournament Director Sullivan said that they are trying to fill the eight spaces, and so far, they have had little success.
He said: ”We got word that Eight Mile Rock is supposed to still be coming. They will be the lone representative from Grand Bahama. We have some other teams that could fill the spaces. We are looking at Gateway coming out of Bimini, we have Inagua, Preston Albury and Agape out of Abaco. We are still shooting toward having 28 teams. So far, we have gotten confirmation from about 17 teams. Hopefully, by the end of the week or early next week, we should have all the teams in.
“We are looking forward to a
competitive tournament, even though Grand Bahama will not be represented like before. We are still anticipating a very competitive tournament with all the teams that will be playing. It is going to create a balance across the board. People look forward to the Grand Bahama/Nassau match-up but I still think it can happen. Eight Mile Rock is still one of the top teams coming from Grand Bahama, so they are coming and they are going to make some waves. I think we are going to have a good tournament.”
The Hugh Campbell Basketball Invitational will be held February 21-28 at the Kendal G.L. Isaacs National Gymnasium. The teams from Grand Bahama that were invited which won’t make appearances this year, include the Jack Hayward High Wildcats, Tabernacle, the St. George’s Jaguars, Sunland Baptist, Catholic High School, St. Paul’s, Alpha/Omega and Bishop Michael Eldon.