It has been a dream of his for some time, and now former senior men’s national basketball coach, and current Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) President Mario Bowleg, is bringing it to fruition. Bowleg went back to the court which he fell in love with as a youngster, the Garden Hills Basketball Court, and is giving back to the community. Bowleg is running a one-week camp, dubbed the Mario Bowleg Fundamental Basketball Camp, on the court. The camp wraps up today.
“After 23 years of coaching and now being the president of the Bahamas Basketball, I have always been asked by individuals why wouldn’t I put on a basketball camp. I always thought of doing it for the love and not the money so I decided to put on a camp on the park that I grew up on as a little boy in Garden Hills. This one is for the young people in the Garden Hills community and the surrounding area. Everything is free – camp shirts, lunch, Gatorade and water,” Bowleg said.
The campers are working on ball-handling skills, passing skills, footwork and the other fundamentals of the game. Bowleg said he just wants the campers to have fun.
“It is all about teaching the fundamentals of basketball and making sure that these idle hands are doing positive activities during the summer months. We wanted to start at age five and go to 15 because we want to be able to mould the characters of these young boys and girls, so they can become better citizens in this society. We may not see the impact right away, but in the years to come we want to change and get back to where we have a society where there is less crime and kids are brought up in a neighborhood environment.”
There are about 80 kids who participated in the camp this week. Bowleg, also a former Hugh Campbell championship coach with C.C Sweeting, said he is hoping that the campers become friends and look out for each other.
“You can look at them, they are very happy. They are smiling – they go and tell their friends and that is why we are growing every day. They tell them about the fun they are having at the camp,” Bowleg said.
Assisting him at the camp are coaches Nigel Ingraham, Derek Cummings, Wade Adderley, Tiffany Wildgoose and Patricia ‘Patty’ Johnson.
Ingraham said he is happy to be on board with the camp.
“It’s my pleasure to be a part of the first Mario Bowleg Basketball Camp in Garden Hills,” he said. “I grew up in this community as well and we dreamt about this for years. To see it pop off, I am proud to be a part of it. It is all about developing the basketball skills in the youngsters and also teaching the young kids how to resolve conflict. Basketball teaches you discipline and helps you to meet lifelong friends. That’s one of the goals here,” said Ingraham.
Bowleg is hoping to make it an annual camp and wants to keep the camp at no cost to the campers. He also wants to bring in counselors to talk to the campers about life and making positive choices.
Bowleg thanked his sponsors for coming on board, namely Sunshine Auto, Career Builders and Impact Waste Management. He also thanked those individuals who came and made donations.
Jump Line – Bowleg is hoping to make the camp an annual one; wants to keep it at no cost