Just this past December 7, the venerable Coach Gladstone “Moon” McPhee was the subject of good-spirited toasts and tributes as he was honored by the Grand Bahama Sports Promotion Association (GBSPA), at a testimonial banquet.
It was one of the highlights of an awesome career, that has seen him contribute mightily to youth and sports development in this country, and the wider region. There were two emphatic points he made that will resonate with me, regarding the substance of the man, for a long time. Coach said firstly, he has no regrets, and then, that his primary motive has always been to give, without any concern for getting “something back”.
He has indeed had successes upon successes, and, arguably, is as synonymous with Bahamian basketball as any other. There is absolutely nothing to regret about his status. I know, though, he wishes that generally, through the years, the interest shown locally in men’s basketball, would have crossed over to the fairer sex.
There is no regret, but he admits, annoyance and a lack of understanding as to why others do not place a high priority on the development of women’s basketball. In the long history of organized basketball in the country, since 1942, there have been, in my view, just three catalytic movements, projecting women’s basketball.
A program was led by Betty Cole during the 1950s. The advent of a women’s association was spearheaded by Mynez Cargill, almost two decades ago. Also, there was the Coach Moon invitational concept, based in Freeport, Grand Bahama.
McPhee founded the HOYTES (Helping Our Youth Through Education and Sports) Geneva Rutherford Women’s Invitational Basketball Tournament, to highlight the ladies in 1999.
“Somehow, there has not been the same concentration on women’s basketball, as compared to the men. I don’t know why. The talent is comparable for sure. The desire among the young girls, I have found through the years, to have been beyond their male peers in some instances. I thought about a tournament to highlight the talents of the ladies, once per year. We get teams from around the country to match skills. There have been times when as many as six different island areas have been represented. Lack of funding for sports in general, makes travel to the tournament a challenge for others who would like to come, but nevertheless, I delight in having the showcase event,” said the coach.
In the year 2020, Coach McPhee is moving right along. He has scheduled the 21st version of the HOYTES Geneva Rutherford Women’s Invitational Basketball Tournament for February 19-22 at the St. George’s Gymnasium in Freeport, Grand Bahama. Registered already are teams from the northern region, inclusive of Grand Bahama and Abaco, as well as New Providence.
“I look forward to the competition among the girls. I feel they will lend some enthusiasm to a society that has been blasted by a huge hurricane. The tournament will show that we are in the recovery mode, and, doing things, as were normal before Hurricane Dorian. It is a struggle, more than usual, this time around, but the girls deserve their forum and they will get it again,” said Coach McPhee.
Sharon “The General” Storr is the tournament director. Coach McPhee’s focus on women’s basketball continues.
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