The groundwork was already laid by the Bahamas Basketball Federation (BBF) and the coaching staff for The Bahamas’ Under-17 (U17) Skills Challenge national teams. Unfortunately, because of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the BBF had no choice but to make a decision this past Tuesday to withdraw the teams from competing in this year’s edition of the competition.
Head Coach for both the male and female teams Marvin Henfield said the decision to withdraw from the competition was one that was in respect of the health and well-being of the athletes.
“The decision was made on Tuesday that The Bahamas would have to withdraw from the 2020 Skills Challenge, citing the COVID-19 pandemic and the issues that we are having here locally in The Bahamas, considering the restrictions that the government has put in place to protect all of us. God does not make mistakes as far as I am concerned. Humanly speaking, we are a little disappointed but we know that ultimately this is the way that he planned it from the beginning,” Henfield said. “It is the best decision for us as a country at this time because I think that the health and wellness of the athletes that we serve should take precedence over everything, which includes the game of basketball itself.”
Those restrictions that Henfield is referring to are those brought on by the national two-week lockdown that the government of The Bahamas has put in place, lasting from Tuesday, August 4 at 10 p.m. to Wednesday, August 19 at 5 a.m. The Bahamas was set to participate in the Americas region qualifiers set for the week of August 10 to 16. However, that week is during the national lockdown period.
“I was extremely excited to see us participate because I believe with all of my heart that we had an opportunity to win this thing. Knowing that we never had a chance to take the court to fly the aquamarine, gold and black is somewhat disappointing, but all things work together for good. Whatever the divine plan is, we will have an opportunity in the future,” Henfield said.
The FIBA (International Basketball Federation) Americas competition is a qualifier for the FIBA World Cup Skills Challenge to be held August 17 to 23. It is similar to the NBA Skills Challenge.
On Saturday, July 25, the tryouts for The Bahamas’ national team were set to get underway. However, because a national lockdown was in place for that weekend, Henfield and the federation was forced to look for another time slot for the tryouts.
Henfield said he was disappointed that he did not get to meet both the male and female athletes. He said he sent a mass e-mail to those who registered, stating that he hopes to meet them in the not too distant future at other national team tryouts.
Registered for The Bahamas’ tryouts were 116 applicants. Out of those applicants, 97 were young men and 19 were young women. There were eight Family Island male athletes and 89 from New Providence. The federation had submissions from those eight Family Island athletes as they did virtual tryouts.
Had there not been a national lockdown, Henfield said that they would not have had an opportunity to have their best there because he knows that Grand Bahama has a great pool of players to choose from. That island was locked down from July 23 – about a week and a half before the national lockdown period began.
Athletes applied for the tryouts via the BBF website and Henfield stated that the database can be used for future basketball-related events such as summer camps. Although the tryouts were only open to 15-year-old to 17-year-old athletes, Henfield said he received an application from a 13-year-old, something to build on in the future.
Apart from Henfield, the coaching and management staff included Sanchez Moss, assistant coach; Jabari Wilmott, executive manager; Maleah Henfield, executive manager, assistant for the women’s team; Joette Fernander, executive manager, assistant for the men’s team; Garvin Clarke, team manager; Francis Delva, players evaluation manager; and La-Tondra Brown and David Capron, event managers.
The U17 skills challenge is a new competition that FIBA brought about during the COVID-19 pandemic. The purpose is to have national federations, like the BBF, bring their teams together for a training camp and allow players to enjoy a competitive activity without traveling internationally.